To go or not to go that is the conundrum

Those who know me will attest to my practical, pragmatic approach to most issues.

I can generally see a way out of even the most intractable of problems. The lady of the house has been known to characterise me as Mr Know It All, but I prefer to see my talent as incisive thinking.

But the latest conundrum to stalk the Freeman household has me stumped.

What should one advise a teenager contemplating higher education?

Even Tinpot University, formerly the South West Direshire College of Needlework has thumbed its nose at the Coalition and is charging £9,000 a year for tuition.

Accommodation is £100-plus a week, plus books, beer and pizzas.

The average student will need to borrow the best part of £40,000 simply to survive a three-year degree course.

No problem, say the politicians. Only start paying it back when you are earning more than £21,000 a year and if you still owe cash after 30 years your debt will be wiped clean.

Even high earners will pay back less each month out of their salary than under the present system, albeit for longer.

I can’t help thinking the Treasury has got it sums wrong: Everyone is borrowing more from the government, and paying less back; many will never repay a penny, while others will only partly repay their debt by the time, aged 50-ish, they are freed from the shackles.

The whole system is underpinned by a colossal bureaucracy which will inevitably lose track of millions of pounds and fall victim to fraud and incompetence.

The solution to this is clear: Recognise what we all know: not everyone needs a degree – or a £40,00 debt.

Steer more students to vocational college education, leaving universities to educate the most academically able young people.

Incisive thinking? Not quite, but my quandary remains. Until someone sorts out this unholy mess what should teenagers do? Answers on a postcard please.

By Scott Freeman