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The impact of Britain's foolish university drive is truly disturbing

University graduation ceremony
We could feel the social impact of Britain’s reckless university expansion for some time Credit: David Cheskin/PA

It will come as a surprise to few that 54 per cent of 18-24 year-olds plan to vote Labour in this election, compared to just 13 per cent for the Conservatives, according to YouGov. More intriguing is the striking parallel with data for university lecturers; 56 per cent of the latter support Labour and 11 per cent the Tories. This chilling synergy may have something to do with the fact that over half of young people now go to university.

That our higher education institutions are churning out record numbers of ill-educated, Left-leaning graduates is no secret. But a poll which a few years ago found that 70 per cent of young people have no idea who Mao Tse Tung was spells out how appalling the situation has become.

This particular example chimes troublingly with our metropolitan elite’s disgraceful ignorance of Communism’s worst horrors. Last year, Corbyn praised China’s Great Leap Forward in an interview with Andrew Marr – Mao’s policy of forced collectivisation of agriculture caused the deaths of 45 million people.

That the majority of young people would vote for a party led by someone who arguably endorses the policies of the greatest mass murderer in history isn’t the only reason why the massive expansion of the higher education sector was a mistake. According to the Office for National Statistics, 31 per cent of graduates are over-qualified for the jobs they do, which amounts to about a sixth of the entire workforce. The number of vacancies in skilled occupations such as advanced manufacturing is projected to rise to 3.6 million by 2022.

Churning out graduates who cannot find jobs to match their degrees isn’t a recipe for social cohesion. Historian Lenore O’Boyle argued the reason there were so many revolutions in Europe in 1848 was because too many young men had been educated for a small number of prestigious positions, committing many of them to either unemployment or jobs they considered below their capacities. We have a similar situation today, only with the addition of large doses of neo-Marxist gobbledygook like “gender studies” and “critical race theory”.

Thankfully, our era’s unemployed graduates mainly confine their revolutionary zeal to social media, where they can vent their frustration by “cancelling” people who deny that transwomen are women. Those that do find jobs can satisfy their yearning for “social justice” by policing their workplaces - by insisting on mandatory “unconscious bias” training and so on.

However, there is a risk that today’s graduates could become tomorrow’s state enforcers of progressive orthodoxy. The police detained and questioned nine people a day on average in 2016 for “non-crime hate incidents” on social media, e.g. “misgendering” someone on Twitter. Free speech organisation We Are Fair Cop recently reported that Humberside Police now include these “non-crimes” on people’s records when they request an enhanced DBS check, potentially preventing them from working as teachers or care assistants.

One gets the disturbing sense that this is just the start, and we could feel the social impact of Britain’s reckless university expansion for years to come.