Last Monday whilst watching The Inbetweeners, as I do every Monday because it’s a fantastically funny TV programme, Mr. Gilbert, the tyrannical head master who routinely tortures the four boys whose lives the show is centred around, threatened Will with a poor UCAS statement unless he told him who had rearranged flowers to say “we cum tit village”.
His threat was worded as follows:
“Goodbye first rate education, hello University of Lincoln”.
His threat clearly did the trick as Will was terrified; he replied, “I’ve been to Lincoln, and it’s a shithole”
As a graduate of the University of Lincoln I feel the need to contribute my two cents.
Firstly, yes it was quite funny, I can take a joke, but none the less it was a bit misplaced. I’m not trying to say that Lincoln is up there with Warwick or Cambridge because, come on, it’s not. But still, surely it’s not so bad as to justify a very public and scathing slur?
For a start, the Inbetweeners boys themselves are sixth formers, so who’s going to be watching it? Tens of thousands of similar sixth formers and college students who in the next few months are going to be sending their UCAS forms off with their six chosen Universities. I’d hope that they’d know better than to let their choice be influenced by a programme which is mainly concerned with the inability of teenage boys to get laid, but we were all 17 once.
Secondly, the University of Lincoln really isn’t that bad. Yes our rankings aren’t fantastic, we place in the 70s out of the 120 or so UK Universities putting us in the middle third of the chart overall, however, these rankings aren’t the be and end all, something I’ve already written about. Firstly they’re based on what the Guardian and the Times deem important enough to take into account, not what you want from your University and your education, and secondly, a number cannot and will not be able to predict whether you or anyone else will have a good time at University and come out a better person.
Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that the subject specific league tables tell a very different story. For example for Business the Guardian puts us at number 33, we’re 29 for Media and Communications (my area) and even get up to the dizzy heights of 25 for Architecture, all in the top third.
However, there are two sides to the story; for Drama we’re way down at 84 and for History we’re a not so impressive 89 which is perhaps where the University’s reputation for low academic standards comes from. (Based solely on The Guardian University guide, because The Times one is a hassle to get access to)
And we haven’t even touched on the Universities trump card yet, student experience. Lincoln was ranked 34 out of 104, whatever that exactly means but it’s a low number so that must be good, and ever since the University’s communications people got their hands on that figure they’ve been telling anyone who’d listen, and even those who don’t care, repeatedly, with a verse of “improved six years running” and “most improved University 2009” thrown in for good measure.
In defence of the University and its students, the comment has stirred up a bit of a furore on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook as well as the blogosphere. With groups like,”Fuck you gilbert, i’m proud of my second rate education.”
In sum, I’m not in the least bit angry at the writes of The Inbetweeners for dismissing the worth of my entire education in one foul swoop, in fact I think the statement put the University of Lincoln on a massive platform to speak to a hugely important group of people, potential students. It gave Lincoln the opportunity not just to dismiss this statement but also the chance to show exactly how wrong it was. So many people leapt to the defence of the University, including Fern Cotton on BBC Radio 1 and an army of loyal graduates and students who know exactly what the University is like beyond the tables, and hopefully between us all we’ve made enough noise to make it a whole lot easier for future students to be able to justify their choice of study.
After years of defending my choice of University, especially doing a Media course, easy target really, hopefully they will have an easier time of it than I did!