‘So, what next?’: the question no recent university graduate wants to hear

When I travelled 465 miles to the south west of England from the North-East, I was met with faces of amazed excitement and confusion. I have to humbly admit that the attention was rather addictive. I revelled in being met with comedic expressions and exasperated voices asking whether ‘I could have moved any further from home!?’, while others probed me to repeat something in my unfamiliar Geordie accent. But now, when I say I am moving back to that home – and that I don’t have a job with a five-figure starting salary, or that I am essentially turning my back on the career prospects of the South – I do not receive the same reaction.

It seems that finishing your degree, and the sense of accomplishment that derives from it, is quickly dissolved by overwhelming questions – and more often accusations – of ‘what happens next?’ I had barely handed in my dissertation before I was met with an uncomfortable desire to impress the person asking the fated question and/or quickly punch them in the face.  Although I (gladly) chose neither option, I did find myself secretly searching for jobs I had absolutely no interest in, and even contemplating spending another year accruing debt by enrolling in a masters just to pointlessly fill in the conversational blanks.

As Amber Patterson, recent English Graduate from the University of Falmouth, said: the persistent ‘what next’ questions seem to play an active and demoralising role in perpetuating the narrative that happiness and success directly correlate to a ‘constant state of doing and achieving’. This means that expressing interest in ‘taking a break’ is inherently seen as negative, and doesn’t quite match the jaunty tone of those taking an avid and expectant interest in my future plans. In my experience (which is likely to find replication in all those making the ‘dreaded’ journey from South back to North): stating my intention of returning to Gateshead is met with disappointed and awkward faces. Apparently, re-inhabiting your regional home is equated with regression, failure and a distinct lack of ambition: people almost find it insulting that you finally managed to escape the social bonds of your hometown by breaking away from a pond-life existence, only to return to that same neighbourhood despite your avenue-opening, newly-achieved degree.

To address those who ask this question: I do not believe you are evil, but I do believe you are ignorant. It would be foolish to state that anyone wishing to know more about your post-grad opportunities does so with the focused intention of causing upset and anxiety. I, like anyone else, find myself curious about these matters, and I myself am predisposed to that urge to interrogate anyone and everyone in order to uncover details about the post-uni existence that awaits some of my friends. Even now, I’m still fascinated by the seemingly endless prospects my peers have secured through their degree – and I still ‘comment’ on the Facebook posts about new jobs in London or ‘like’ the AD-worthy posts on Instagram of those travelling the world.

But this is exactly my point. All of these things – as multifaceted as they are – deserve to be proudly celebrated. You just have to remember that these experiences are not easily-accessible. With this in mind, a more realistic and compassionate stance to assume towards recent graduates is this: if someone is enthusiastic enough about their post-grad life, then they will unapologetically tell you directly.  They won’t require any prompts. Whereas for those who unfortunately lack the opportunity for such ventures, be it for personal or family reasons, this question is not constructive, helpful or endearing.

A word of warning, then: if you do find yourself desperate to disclose your next life steps as a recent graduate, and want to encourage others to do the same, just remind yourself why you are asking and whether you are genuinely interested. If these motives seem self-indulgent, instead ask that person how they are?; or how they found their university experience in general and what mildly interests them about the future? Don’t be the person that pressurises them to confirm the unbearable belief that they aren’t doing enough when they haven’t even started. 

 

ITV’s Love Island redeems itself by championing regional accents

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that reality TV is horrible, and uncanny in its ability to draw out the worst parts of human nature. But it’s also one of the only occasions in which regional British accents receive public airtime. It’s strange to admit, but ITV’s producers, when it comes to casting for this over-subscribed and widely-cherished reality contest, have a fairly nuanced appreciation of diversity. They get the fact that reality TV thrives off relatability with its audience, and unlike the BBC’s tired and London-centric dramas, they’ve remembered that there’s a world beyond the Capital and the Home Counties. To this end, creds to them.

Besides reality TV, the UK’s most-watched dramas of the past few years are nigh-on all based in London and its cultural peripheries. Unforgotten, Collateral, Fleabag, Line of Duty, The Bodyguard, Luther, Silent Witness, Killing Eve. The list goes on. The only marginally regional thing about any of these shows was Richard Madden’s Scottish accent – but not even that salvaged an otherwise unforgivably insular, boring and repetitive display of London’s cultural and political allure. Each of these performances – acting aside – are deeply annoying in their desperation to appeal to international, and specifically American, audiences. In doing so, mainstream producers fail to recruit, feature or acknowledge the rest of the UK.

Meanwhile, you’ve got Love Island, which is so British it hurts. There’s no risk of alienating American viewers here, because this is all about engaging the domestic populace after dreary summer days spent in the office. When considered from a regional perspective – as diversity drives seldom are – Love Island is one of the only truly representative domestic television features. Its hetero-normative comprehension of gender and sexuality is grossly old fashioned – and yes, the idea that young, often vulnerable individuals are willingly subjecting themselves to intense public scrutiny is conceptually bizarre. But does it discriminate based on accent, region or linguistic idiosyncrasy? Definitely not.

What did Twitter have to say about this year’s conglomerate of regional voices? This is an important question to ask, because many people who watch Love Island are also prone to giving their feedback on Twitter. Audience interaction – via tweets, hashtags and polls – is woven into the fabric of the show itself. So, when Twitter’s overwhelming response is to ridicule the non-London portion of accents featured on this series (of which there are a fair few), you can best believe that that’s what most people think. (Fyi, just type ‘Love Island Accents’ into Twitter and have a browse over the last week: the responses I feature below aren’t anomalous).

‘They honestly need to make a Londoners only Love Island season… these accents are too much’, said one Twitter user, followed by a similar tweet that ‘Love Island should be Londoners only because all these accents are giving [me] a headache’. Many talked about ‘needing subtitles’ to understand what people were saying. Another read: ‘Tonight’s show taught us that we must never raise our kids outside London because these accents are all the way backwards’. Echoing this statement, a heavily-favourited tweet asked whether Love Island’s producers were ‘refusing to let people from London onto their show? Because [he] was sick and tired of hearing all these shit accents.’ To clarify, there are three people from London currently in the villa.

Evidently, ‘linguistic profiling’ is something which we fail to acknowledge as a form of discrimination within national media (but which also affects people in their daily lives, at university and within the workplace). According to an ITV investigation, 80% of employers admit they discriminate against applicants based on accent, while 28% of Britons feel discriminated against because of their regional identity. It’s obvious why: because the general perception is that a standardised British accent makes you sound smarter, posher, more middle-class and more recognisable at a global level.

On this front, again, Twitter users didn’t hold back. ‘Where the fuck does Love Island find these dirt accents every FUCKING year’, said one woman, adding that she ‘still hadn’t forgiven them after they let a Birmingham accent on National TV last year.’ Someone else asked whether ‘it’s just that Scottish lad on love island’, or if ‘all Scottish accents sound fucking horrific on TV.’

Many tweets struck up a more serious tone. “When we said we wanted more diversity we meant more ethnicities, not accents’, said one female user, while another bemoaned that ‘Love Island’s idea of diversity is white people with different accents.’

This gets to the heart of the matter. Regional diversity, for whatever reason, is not perceived as ‘real’ diversity. While it’s undeniable that those of BME status are underrepresented in the media, leading national institutions and higher education, so are the regions (particularly the heavily ‘accented regions’, such as the South-West, North-East, North-West and Wales). To therefore recruit ‘diversity’ based solely on ethnicity completely diminishes the reality of this fact and the division it perpetuates. Ideally, all forms of under-representation need to be addressed for society to function at its maximum potential.

Of course, siphoning off ‘regional’ accents to the reality-TV portion of our small screens is dangerously self-reinforcing. Shows such as Love Island, which actually so often champion the regional accent, end up construing non-standardised voices as spectacles or novelties. Until mainstream dramas begin incorporating regional accents into their work, shows like Love Island remain the only source by which non-standard accented citizens can ‘relate’ to individuals on screen, allowing linguistic prejudice to continue unobstructed.

For now, though, it’s quite nice hearing voices from Newcastle, or Liverpool, or Wales or Manchester, garnering more attention at 9pm on ITV 2 than the contestants with more ‘standardised’ accents. What exists in Love Island – so far at least – is an accented microcosm of the nation in true voice: a visible, audible reminder that different ways of speaking mutually co-exist. The fact that people should consider hearing accents offensive, disconcerting or abnormal in any way undermines diversity in one of its most basic forms. It’s also just heart-breaking for those who live and talk in those very regional voices, and don’t want to have to change to fit in.

We need to stop obsessing over women’s tears and what they might mean

The clamour around Theresa May’s resignation is subsiding, with the new Conservative leadership election well under way. But Twitter continues, rather sadistically, to pore over that haggard image of Theresa May crying outside No.10. Whether you think ‘sympathy’ for this crying woman is justified, or the sobs were legit, is totally irrelevant. By even analysing her ‘self-indulgent’ tears – and more specifically, her lack of them at times ‘when it mattered’ – we perpetuate damaging stereotypes about ‘expected’ female behaviours and personality traits. She cried at this juncture because she felt like it. The other times she didn’t. Let’s just leave it at that.

It is claimed that crying ‘humanises’ a politician, but this is stupid, because emotions are subjective and personal, and the ‘humanising’ process is only really open to young or liberal individuals. Successful criers and sympathisers are typically affectionate, liberal men (and the occasional liberal woman, such as Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s current Prime Minister, seen hugging victims and crying in a motherly manner after the Christchurch terror attacks, or Hilary Clinton, who broke down during her 2008 Presidential Campaign and swept up the female vote). Male examples include Gordon Brown, when speaking about the death of his daughter on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories; Obama, when he cried during a speech against gun violence and the death of his grandmother; and Justin Trudeau, publicly crying as he met a Syrian refugee.

Unsuccessful or ‘heartless’ displays of emotion, meanwhile, have emanated from older, Conservative women: Margaret Thatcher as she was extricated from office; Angela Merkel when she ‘welled up’ after Obama’s scathing criticisms in a Eurozone Crisis meeting in 2011 but failed to be moved by the plea of a young Palestinian refugee; Theresa May’s most recent public address. A double-standard is in operation, and you can recognise it without agreeing with their politics: while the public go mad over chivalrous outpourings of emotion by stoic political men and the occasional down-to-earth liberal heroine, older, more reserved women are unfairly attacked for failing to be consistently vulnerable, or false when they are. They become ‘head-mistressy’, ‘robotic’ or ‘witch-like.’ 

The way the media has responded to May’s speech exposes the dichotomous patriarchal constructions that dictate female roles in a male political world, of which even Liberal women are not exempt. On the one hand, women who cry are irrational and unfit for leadership. On the other, women who don’t are typically seen as inhumane and frigid, forfeiting their femininity. They can’t win. The new mural of Theresa May’s face on Digbeth Street in Birmingham encapsulates this paradox. Beneath a drawing of her crying sobs is written ‘STRONG AND STABLE’ in mocking terms. While the words point to the strong-willed political vision she attempted to offer the nation, her tears are weaponised as symbols of its inevitable failure: pathetic manifestations of her female weaknesses.

But at the same time, many other individuals were praising Theresa May for her tears, frustrated that she hadn’t cried sooner. Heidi Allen questioned why Theresa May ‘hadn’t shown that emotion more? Things could have been so different…’. An Independent columnist, likewise, argued that Theresa May’s resignation speech ‘finally did something good for women’, because her cries showed that ‘she’s just another human being’ who actually ‘really cared.’ These comments suggest that as a woman, you must cry to show you care, and you’ll be supported if you do. That seems to be as equally sexist as the presumed link between female tears and fragile irrationality.

In fact, demanding tactical tears for every occurring tragedy or political manoeuvre is absurd: it’s a standard we wouldn’t hold men to. Mrs May’s policy record is poor – there’s no denying it. Her decision to continue depriving Universal Credit of necessary investment has disproportionately affected low-income single mothers, while her ‘hostile environment’ policy criminalised refugees. But having said this, it is still hypocritical to expect May – and other female leaders – to cry at such daily injustices. While many of us feel desperately for the plight of those suffering in society today, we might not necessarily cry for them. Those calling out false equivalences between May’s ‘selfish’ job-loss tears and the dry-eyed face she presented to Grenfell Tower and Windrush victims probably don’t cry about such scandals either. If they do, well good for them. Showing your emotion isn’t an objective science: just because we don’t cry it doesn’t mean we don’t feel.  

By expecting female politicians to be pure, affectionate, and conveniently-emotional (lest they otherwise be portrayed as cold-hearted, power-hungry, spinster-like iron ladies), we make the office even less attractive for female political hopefuls both left and right-wing. In craving emotional displays, we simply demonstrate a weird fetishisation of watching people suffer. Better to just not talk about the crying at all, because then we can’t set up impossible emotional conditions for female leaders to meet.  Crying says nothing about a person’s humanity. It’s just a topic loaded with sexism and ageism. 

Why rape comments are always tactical

Gerard Batten assured us that it was a ‘statement of non-intent’ – but Carl Benjamin’s comment that he ‘wouldn’t even rape’ Labour MP Jess Philips should never be consigned to the offhand-remark pile. An explicit attack on the ‘over-sensitivity’ of mainstream media outlets, rape references by right-wing politicians are always tactical. Signifying the greatest possible dispensation with cultures of equality and progressivism, such comments – brash, offensive and provocative – function as assurances of equally radical policies. In other words, rape-comments win votes.

Somehow, by their sexism and misogyny, male political outsiders have become the champions of free-speech and anti-establishment views. The list is increasing at an alarming rate. Donald Trump, after claiming that his celebrity status allows him to ‘grab any woman by the pussy’, dismissed the comments as ‘locker-room talk’ during his presidential campaign back in 2016. Jair Bolsonaro, now President of Brazil, claimed in 2015 that his fellow Congresswoman Maria do Rosário was ‘not worth raping’ because she was ‘very ugly’. Meanwhile, Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte has been known to make frequent jokes about rape, offering the justification that ‘as long as there are many beautiful women, there are plenty of rape cases as well.’  His Presidential spokesperson noted that Duterte was ‘known to make jokes’ and simply has a ‘sense of humour.’

Though UKIP might be down in the polls ahead of the upcoming European elections – and overtaken by Nigel Farage’s ‘Brexit Party’ – examples above suggest that drawing on rape imagery empowers outlandish political men and their followers. It speaks to an inner traditionalism that many voters in civilised democratic landscapes feel is being overtaken by elite preoccupations: welfare concerns, female empowerment and uncontrolled immigration. Support for Benjamin’s ‘quip’ is already evident and rife: Phillips admitted that she was chased down the street by a man asking why Benjamin ‘shouldn’t be able to joke about her rape’. This only adds to the multitude of rape and death threats women politicians now routinely receive.

But why are blasé affirmations of male sexual dominance so effective? Because they pare power relations back to their most basic and rudimentary form: male versus female. If female politicians act to the distaste of political men (and they just so happen to be white, heterosexual and of the same nationality, like Jess Phillips), then ‘rape’ is their go-to trump-card: a guaranteed way of asserting essentialised, biologically-determined authority over a female opponent. Swearing candidates like Benjamin into the European parliament is a dangerous endorsement of such strategising. Bolsonaro started off on the outskirts of Brazilian politics, and now he presides over a population of 212 million people. His controversial views – widely publicised – were no doubt the driving force behind his bid for the presidency. Who’s to say Benjamin couldn’t possibly follow suit?

Importantly, these comments are never simply an end-in-themselves. Part of their function is to stimulate backlash and debate – giving the perpetrators opportunity to defend their comments on televised TV debates, like Politics Live. Horrifyingly, this turns those same perpetrators into heroes for boldly upholding their right to cause offence, even when challenged on live air. What courage! As one Twitter user aptly remarked, referring to the now-infamous Politics Live showdown between Gerard Batten and the surrounding panel (where the UKIP leader defended Benjamin’s comments): ‘I do not care for Gerard Batten, but your interview is almost an inquisition. He’s beset on all sides and the panel’s disdain for him is palpable. He may gain votes from people who have seen this and feel sympathy for him and his party.’

With this in mind, it’s time we stopped dismissing rape comments as meaningless bluster. They are always premeditated, always spoken with a purpose, and always an indication of the type of politics any individual wants to enforce; we should never assume otherwise.  UKIP donor Aaron Banks, when defending Trump’s sexist remarks in 2016, proffered that ‘men say all sorts of things’, adding that there’s a marked difference between ‘what you do and what you say.’ This is wrong: we need to start taking sexists, and their comments about rape, at face value. We must stop giving them the chance to explain ‘what they meant by what they said’ and, for the love of God, stop giving their defendants invaluable public airtime.

 

 

Cockroaches

Universities take advantage of caffeine addiction from students

who will later struggle to find a pot to relieve themselves in

as the doors of the NHS slam to privatisation

please tell me, what is the use of council taxation?

 

When the roads are still bumpy

and the grass is uncut

and the schools are all closing

as their budgets are cut

 

When will the small towns find any luck

will it take a neck and a noose for them to

give a…

care about us?

 

Like those Jarrow crusaders

let’s kick up a fuss

demand we’re treat fair

or is that too much?

 

Let’s march to 10 downing

I wish they were drowning

because too many times

they’ve broken our trust

REVIEW: The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

The Baltic of early 2018 had been an impressive proponent of contemporary art that, to my disappointment, utterly failed to explain itself. The gallery’s old injunction on verbal details left me confused and disinterested. I am not opposed to more enigmatic works of art per se: less (can be) more. But with formal displays comes a different situation. To hang an artwork on a wall is a social act as much as an aesthetic choice. It is one for which any visitor, not to mention the wealth of talented artists without a place on the wall, deserve a justification. In an art world that too often credits status over skill, the stakes are simply too high.

How things change. If the twenty minutes it took the Baltic café to make my cappuccino felt more like an hour, the full year since my last visit to this famous gallery seemed closer to a decade. For today’s visit, each exhibition I enter puts the visitor firmly at its core. Digital Citizen – The Precarious Subject brings together a diverse collection of artworks that focus the mind around the key issues of our age. In one corner, Petra Szeman’s ‘How to Enter a Fictional Realm’ – a YouTube tutorial on creating a life-like avatar on ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’ – hints at the growth of a digital humanity, and the subsequent struggle to cement an identity of one’s own. Behind it, the box-cum-potting shed that is Peter Hanmer’s ‘Plato’s Lair Redux’ questions the truth of our world-experience, and the fragility of accepted ‘realities’.

The preface to the exhibition states a clear aim: ‘to inspire a conversation’. The phrasing is apt – Digital Citizen does not eschew information, but revels in it. On a large white table the curators have assembled a collection of books and articles treating various aspects of contemporary lived experience. In one, a Macedonian teenager discusses the ease with which ‘fake news’ articles employed in the run-up to the 2016 US Presidential election could manipulate voters – and the extortionate sums to be earned in the process.

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Each available printout accompanies and augments its neighbouring works of art. But the rehousing of these web-articles carries an artistic point, too. As if answering its own question – ‘Are we still able to form a community or has the fragmentation of the present moment deprived us of the capacity of being active enabled citizens?’ – the gallery reclaims from the internet and its virtual existence a sense of the tangible, and the trustworthy. Looking round to see one’s fellow visitors, it is a timely reminder that art, if not the wider world, retains a definitively communal dimension.

This sense of art-as-action is one that the BALTIC Artists’ Award 2019 exhibition sets out to continue. Speaking to The Guardian last month, Iraq War veteran Aaron Hughes explained how “creativity can push back against the divisions that drive conflict”. Hughes’ own ‘push back’ can be found in his reimagining of Wilfred Owen’s wartime poems into powerful monochrome works that ‘construct narratives and meaning out of personal and collective traumas’. Likewise, Ingrid Pollard’s oeuvre is a laying bare of the intimate connection between race and representation. Her range of photographs, prints, moving image and audio deliver a genuinely shocking exposition of the extent to which British public spaces are themselves littered with prejudice – old hangovers from an era of imperial colonisation. Her own words explictly outline her motive: to make visible ‘what we always knew was there’.

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My personal highlight was Heather Phillipson’s ‘The Age of Love’. Pity the fool that, hearing of every gallery claiming to create a ‘remixed geology’, ‘augmented reality’ or ‘spatio-temporal field’, expects immediately to be welcomed into its purview. The majority of such attempts, beyond a bit of well thought-out interior design, fall sadly short of their mark.

Not Phillipson’s. She transports her visitors beyond the ‘rigidly anthropocentric’ into ‘other worlds and temporalities’; imagine walking on Mars – but with hypnotic screens, a giant rotating foot, and a (psychedelic) black cat unnerving from the sidelines. Such was the disorientating strength of her creation that a friend had to leave after 10 seconds with a headache. Perhaps some will consider that a fault. I, not without pains myself, chalked it up to astronomical art that fulfilled its intention.

Speaking in 2015, a couple of weeks into her tenure, Baltic director Sarah Munro described herself as “a talker”. Perhaps that influence hasn’t always shown, but on the basis of the gallery’s current display, few would doubt. Unleashed from the shackles of pretence, this was probably the most honest and important dissection of contemporary culture that I have seen in a British gallery to-date. Welcome to BALTIC 2019: a reformed space, firmly sat at the nexus of art and ideas. Anyone else best get with the times.

Regional bias is responsible for the working-class attainment gap: it can’t be ignored any longer

Just two weeks ago, NEON, the National Education Opportunities Network, released a report exploring the statistical dearth of working class students in top UK universities. These figures revealed, tragically, that ‘more than half of England’s universities have fewer than 5% of poor white students in their intakes.’

Helpfully, though perhaps overdue, this report draws explicit attention to the limitations of current efforts to improve access within higher education (HE): that is, a failure to account for the diverse and intersectional nature of underrepresentation. For the first time, bitterly entrenched regional bias has been officially identified as a barrier to social mobility, with the report’s findings showing that many working-class students living in Low Participation Neighbourhoods do not go on to participate in top HE institutions.

For a long time, we’ve known that there is underachievement of disadvantaged white youngsters across all forms of education. But now we know why: because the majority of these individuals living in ‘Low Participation Neighbourhoods’ come from regional backgrounds. Students living in those areas where university attendance is lowest – which is mainly among regional areas in the North and Midlands – are less likely to apply for ‘Russell Group’ universities, but instead enrol at ‘post-1992’ universities. Wrongly or rightly, these are considered to be less prestigious than their red-brick counterparts. The report showed that Sheffield Hallam University accepted the greatest number of poorer white students, along with Liverpool John Moores and Teeside. The top UK universities admitted barely any.

This is an issue much wider than higher education: it is about the discrepancy in opportunity between the country’s capital and its peripheries in all aspects of life. It isn’t about race. The young working-class individuals deprived from a fulfilling HE experience at more ‘prestigious’ institutions is not because they are white. It is because they live in areas with depressed local funding, terrible schools, high unemployment rates and little access to cultural enrichment.

While London and the South-East are brimming with cultural opportunities, grammar schools and ample prospects to earn a decent living (as well as all the associated ambition bound up with these phenomena), the North-East habitually produces the UK’s worst unemployment rate and possesses not a single grammar school. The capital alone boasts the highest proportion of outstanding schools in the country in both affluent and deprived areas, while the North-East sports the highest number of individuals living on free school meals (and therefore the ones less likely to make it to university).

What this report should make clear is not that working-class students are not being deliberately ‘forgotten about’ and ‘left behind’; only that the same opportunities to succeed are being withheld from them. More accurately, entire regions are left behind, and that incorporates everyone within them: it just so happens that they are predominantly white.

The ‘relative lack of white learners from low participation neighbourhoods (LPN) attending London institutions’, the report explains, reflect the small numbers of LPN in the capital, which is ‘almost universally a high participation neighbourhood area’. This explains why students of any colour living in the capital are more likely to participate in prestigious HE than their regional counterparts. NEON’s analysis found that of all applicants to HE by the LPN demographic, only 22% were accepted. More than half of UK universities have no procedure in place to prevent these students from slipping through the cracks. Instead, HE institutions accepted fewer than 20% of the applicants received from this social group. Doesn’t seem like a sensible way to incite confidence and fight cultures of exclusion, does it?

The take-away point here should be that one form of positive discrimination needn’t be privileged over another. Instead, society must focus on creating, as far as we can, an equal playing field that accounts for all forms of inequality during the admissions process by engaging with different measures of deprivation.

For example, getting 41 students from a state-school in London into Oxbridge is a massive achievement, but this in itself does little to fix the educational and participation imbalance between different regions of the country. The ‘working class’ is a broad church, but it’s important to note that everyone – including poor white students from a regional background – will benefit from wider inclusion policies.

We already have methods to track regional deprivation: now it’s time we put them to use. Take the POLAR quintile. This is a postcode tool that measures the proportion of young people in a specific area that participate at different levels of education. The POLAR4 quintile specifically looks at the proportion of young people who enter higher education aged between 18 and 19 between the years 2009-10 and 2014-15. It should be taken into greater consideration during admissions procedures as part of implementing ‘clear targets to recruit white working-class students’, which the report recommends.

Fees have so far acted as a deterrent for society’s ‘residuum’. As have cuts to local government funding in deprived areas. Rather than persist with the divisive tuition system, new scholarships and maintenance grants for deprived individuals from underrepresented POLAR regions must be created immediately in those institutions showing minimal admissions from LPN backgrounds, especially where living costs are particularly high (like Oxford, Cambridge and LSE, in which LPN acceptances make up only 3%, 2% and 1% of all acceptances).

The Government, meanwhile, must undo years of regional bias in local government funding and investment. Otherwise, divides will get bigger, people will become snobbier and the UK, on the whole, will not be a particularly pleasant place to live.