NUS double-talk on university admissions: a classic of the genre

This is only a brief post, but I thought it was worth doing on account of a classic example of left-wing double-talk on the BBC Newsnight programme last night which shows once more how our ideologies are completely blinding us from reality.

The occasion was a little report on university admissions outlining how the admissions service UCAS has accepted just 172,420 male admissions for the coming academic year so far, compared to 224,570 from females. That is 35% of male A-Level students going to university compared to 44% female students.

National Union of Students (NUS) Vice President Joe Vinson was interviewed for the segment and said the numbers were “not surprising” because “apprenticeships pay less for women systematically; women earn less in the workplace, particularly when they don’t have a degree. So it’s not surprising that women feel like they have to go to university to better themselves, in order to compete with men on an equal level”.

So we can see how female students doing better than male, not just at age 18 but all the way through our educational system, is actually down to ‘systematic’ female disadvantage. This is a classic of the genre of prevailing liberal-left ideology that assigns explanation to mysterious forces rather than any evidence or investigation into the behavioural patterns and practices that are leading to these outcomes.

Now I am going to do a little speculation of my own based on a bit of knowledge, experience and common sense. I doubt that hardly any of those successful female students would think they have worked hard to get to university in order to defeat systematic male domination in the workplace. I also doubt if girls achieving better at lower ages is down to this factor, if indeed it can be called a factor. I doubt whether many girls are even aware they are meant to be systematically disadvantaged in primary school, let alone that their higher achievement is driven by this.

As Simon Hogg, a Labour councillor for Latchmere ward in Wandsworth, South London, said on Twitter: "The missing men are from poorer communities". Also, as he pointed out, both guests on Newsnight - from UCAS and the Girls' Schools Association - said that lack of male primary school teachers may be a factor in boys' relative failure.

I think this is probably correct, though it cannot be about the narrow identity of teachers. The real causes, if they can be called causes, must surely lie more in customs and practices, including from within the currently-prevalent teaching ideologies.

Incidentally, it is worth mentioning as an aside that Newsnight discussed this issue in the studio using a female presenter and two female experts. Now just imagine the uproar and outrage if a question of female disadvantage had been discussed by three men! Myself though, I don’t see anything wrong with this as long as they are qualified to speak impartially rather than just out of narrow group ‘representation’.

I was also quite amused by presenter Fi Glover’s insistent questioning about the need for positive discrimination to be used for boys, meaning lesser standards for them to enter university. As she pointed out, this gets used quite widely for other groups.

As with other cases, I don’t see affirmative action like this as any sort of solution. We rather need to find out what is really going wrong for boys as a group. I don’t think this should be too difficult to do if we can lay down the silly ideologies as expressed by our friend from the NUS. Instead we should look at the...evidence (most particularly the subjective experience of boys - and girls - in the schools system).

See Identity politics and the left page for more on this subject matter.


  1. This piece might interest you ...

    Well Done The Girls?


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