You know, of course, that education broadens the intellectual horizons and sharpens the critical faculties, but are there any benefits that even a politician could recognise? The B.B.C. has the answer:
The figure given by Lord Browne is a quarter of what the government claimed was the graduate premium when tuition fees were raised to £3,000 per year... "Graduates, on average, earn £100,000 more over their working life net of taxation than an individual whose highest qualification is two or more A-levels," said the inquiry document.
But he does add that graduates are more likely to be rewarded in other ways like living healthier lives, being in work and being less likely to smoke.
For students wondering where their tuition fees go, it will be a relief to learn that they are less likely to smoke than otherwise. Yet I should like to know whether, in assessing the benefits of my time as as student, I should regard the number of cigarettes not smoked by me in absolute terms or in comparison to the number not smoked before I entered higher education. Moreover, how do I tell which of the cigarettes I don't smoke are a product of my Bachelor's Degree, and which are not smoked thanks to my postgrad. studies? Should I treat unsmoked cigarettes, cigars and pipes as equivalent for these purposes, or rate them separately?
Okay, I know it's a matter of correlation and likelihood; but wheeled out in this context it does remind me of that possibly apocryphal letter (versions addressed both to David Miliband and to Hilary Benn can be found online) about not rearing pigs. People considering not smoking as a possible option may rest assured that participation in higher education, at any level of costs, is not a strict requirement.