We all know what Higher Education is like. But does it fare better or worse than the actual life? Andy Bodle has decided to imagine what a prospectus for The University of Life (UoL) would look like...
[Warning: This is a satire!]
Welcome to The University of Life.
At the UoL, we believe the only letters you need after your name are the initials of your football team.
Early adulthood should be an eye-opening, mind-blowing time; a time of exploration, of testing limits, of finding out who you are and what you can do. Last year, 49% of young British people chose to do this in so-called “higher education”. But the overwhelming majority – 51% – still believe the best place to start their journey is here, at the University of Life.
At UoL, you’ll learn the value of hard work. Of straight talking. Of family. Of community. And, in the absence of any achievements of your own to build your identity around, of blind, belligerent nationalism.
... and what’s more, you’ll learn all this for nothing. That’s right – here at UoL, our fees are the lowest in the land, at precisely zero! No overdrafts, no debt repayments hanging over you for decades. (Some will try to argue that the £400,000 less you’ll earn over a lifetime than regular graduates partially offsets this saving, but to them we say, “Shut up!”)
The beauty of the University of Life is that you’re not tied to any one campus or cluster of hideous redbrick buildings. The UoL is anywhere and everywhere! (Although in practice, since you have no set lectures to attend, tutors to present essays to or exams to sit, and since you’ve never picked up any knowledge of the outside world and thus been motivated to explore it, you’ll probably just stay in the same poxy, fake-Mulberry, five-shots-for-a-fiver, WITH-SHANE-RICHIE-AS-BUTTONS! town where you grew up.)
We encourage our students to let off a bit of steam now and then... (Yara Nardi/Reuters)
Why put up with a pokey, draughty, dingy, noisy, single-bed hovel in a hall of residence? Save yourself the earache and ballache by continuing to live with your parents until you’re 26!
No rent, no bills, plus the added bonus of a personal chef and laundry service, and a neverending flow of free advice on your every life choice, from people who know a thing or two*!
*Sometimes as many as three.
At most universities, you’ll meet vast numbers of people from all sorts of places and backgrounds, with diverse religious beliefs, lifestyles and political views. But come on, who wants to put themselves through that rigmarole? You’re much better off sticking with the crowd you went to school with, plus maybe a couple of blokes from the warehouse.
Forget rarefied conversations with curious minds about religion, philosophy and politics. What’s wrong with bantz about the transfer window and the fucking lungs on that?
You’ll never have to bother learning how to structure a logical argument or express yourself clearly and cogently. Just run with whatever half-formed thought pops into your head. Whoever needed to be able to organise their thoughts, or critically analyse newspaper headlines or politicians’ soundbites anyway? It’s not as if the government will ever ask you to make any crucial decisions on the country’s political and economic future!
Sure, if you want to hobnob with toffee-nosed twats called Caoimhe and Olivia and Tariq, go to Durham or Edinburgh or York. But if you want the real low-down, come and mix it up with good, real, honest, hardworking people like Terry and Barry and Mick. (The only toffee-nosed twats you should ever have dealings with are the ones who graduate, become far-right politicians, and swear on their fob watches that they’re “men of the people”. Them, you unquestioningly vote for.)
Keeping in touch with his plebeian side... Jacob Rees-Mogg and issue. (Mike Lawn/Rex)
(Girls, this goes double for you, because participation in higher education among women is so high now that the sex ratio at the University of Life is, shall we say, skewed in your favour. So step right up and take advantage of all those free and single Terrys, Barrys and Micks! Please.)
So you may not have access to world-class collections of books in calm, comfortable surroundings, but when it comes to reading, who could ask for a better setting than the public library? If yours hasn’t closed down, that is. And anyway, duh, internet!
UoL may not boast hundreds of clubs and societies to cater for every interest situated conveniently on your doorstep, or thousands of people of a similar age to pursue those interests with, but there’s probably a choir or a winemaking club or something somewhere near you! Use your bloody initiative!
And while regular universities may offer unparalleled sport and leisure facilities, the big, wide world has plenty to offer too. There’s darts and pool and Sunday kickabouts and probably at least an hour a week when the council pool isn’t given over to screaming, pissing kids or fucking aquarobics. Besides, after a lifetime of carrying round that sequoia-sized chip on your shoulder, you’ll be as strong as an ox!
Here at UoL, people are your books, the streets are your lecture halls, and the world is your campus. We teach armchair expertise in just about every subject you can imagine, but we specialise in the following subjects:
- Cod philosophy
- Sports appreciation
- Media studies (esp the Sun, Mail, Express, ITV)
- Hagiography (of football players, pop stars and YouTubers)
- Modern languages (Gibberish, Utter Bullshit and Cant)
- Law (circumventing)
Rest assured – no one will ever lecture you at the Uni of Life!
Mature UoL student boning up hard. (Flickr/Daniel Novta)
You never really graduate from UoL, of course, because there are no exams and no degree certificates and, well, no structure, feedback or development of any sort. But that’s not to say you’ll go home empty-handed!
Most of our students go on to become extraordinarily proficient in their chosen skills. Mainly because once they’ve landed one job, it’s almost impossible for them to switch careers or get promoted.
We’re proud to have been the training ground for a huge number of the most famous and powerful figures in public life. Our most prominent graduates include:
- Simon Cowell
- Zac Goldsmith MP
- Robert Maxwell
- Sir Jimmy Savile OBE, KCSG
- Peter Sutcliffe, aka the Yorkshire Ripper
- Myra Hindley
- Thomas Hamilton, Dunblane mass killer
- Adolf Hitler
- Jim Davidson
Choose freedom. Choose independence. Choose simplicity and familiarity. Choose reductive, black-and-white thinking. Choose simple solutions, even though, being simple, they’ve been tried a million times before and never once worked. Choose the same pub every Friday and the same Chinese every other Thursday. Choose a stag do in Riga before you turn 28. Choose staring blankly at your phone over the dinner table because you ran out of things to talk about years ago.
Choose the University of Life.🔷
(This piece was first published in Rainbows & Lollipops.)