A selection Open University prospectusesHaving divested myself (at last!) of my OU molecular science assignment, thoughts naturally turn to what to do next.

Unlike many of my fellow OU bloggers, I don’t have a nicely timetabled plan. I originally started studying out of interest and, although a degree would be a nice addition to my qualification-lite CV, it’s unlikely to make any real difference to my career prospects.

My real reason for studying is the need to feed a hungry mind – something that I had hoped to continue for the rest of my life or, at least, until I lost the capacity to do so.

HMG’s decision to provide loans to part-time students on the same basis as full-time students (and the consequent quadrupling of course fees) has called time on that particular aspiration. Education has now officially become a purely economic activity and any notion of a public good that develops the individual and benefits society has been unambiguously trashed.

Given that we have a rapidly aging population, you would think that politicians of all persuasions would have spotted the potential benefits of encouraging people with extensive life experience and plenty of free time to remain intellectually active and socially engaged. Perhaps that should be my next campaign. We could give it a name – something like “The Big Society”.

Links : The most inspiring book I’ve ever read about education is “The Intellectual Life of the British Working Class”.