Too much education: why BPP is wrong to damn its graduates to perennial studentdom

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By Alex Aldridge on

A turning point in my life was when I ran out of excuses to do more higher education. On reflection, my English literature degree (four years), GDL (one year) and BPTC (one year) amount to a massive waste of time and money. Indeed, if I could do it all again, I wouldn’t even go to university.

But perhaps, as a middle class person whose university lecturer parents placed a high value on education, these were just the hoops I was destined to jump through. I just thank God that law schools weren’t offering free further courses to their jobless alumni – as BPP announced it is to do last week – when I was graduating…

If I’d been able to avoid the world of work by doing the New York Bar exam or whatever other useless freebie qualification that is being given away by BPP, I’m pretty sure I would have. And in the short term it would have been great. Rather than embracing a hateful new life as a (very surly) paralegal, I’d have been able to keep reality at bay by embracing the status of “masters student”.

But then what? Perhaps next year, in its latest bid for a hit of publicity, BPP will introduce a new offer where graduates of its freebie courses who still don’t have jobs can sleep in its buildings free of charge until they reach retirement age. Again, that would have suited me fine.

Fortunately, my options ran out, and in part to assuage the pain of this, I began writing about my disappointing experience of the law so far. Through this, to my amazement, I landed a gig interviewing lawyers every week for The Times. And so began a career – in journalism rather than law, as it turned out – that would never have happened if the possibility of further study had remained.

Having a career didn’t only lift me out of post-law school gloom, but it has made me happier generally than when I was a student. As the thrusting execs at the helm of BPP well know, it feels good to develop a skill that generates money which you can then use to build a life of your own. Rather than getting bums on seats to fill obscure, apparently unsubscribed courses, they should let their graduates move on.