What we are so often missing is any kind of personalised picture of our university; a ‘state of the union’. Sure, there’s the National Student Survey, but that limits itself to those who are in their final year and looks more at who they are demographically and what they’re going to do now that they can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It would never catch on to the fact that 50 per cent of York students claim that they have felt depressed while they’ve been here, a statistic that will include many first and second years who are going to be vulnerable for some time to come. The proof is in the pudding; an objective poll carried by York students turning up results that are important for other York students.
It is a shocking statistic, though, and it deserves attention. Why are 50 per cent depressed, just how depressed have they been, and how many of those people are still depressed? There is meant to be a widespread welfare network to ensure that this doesn’t happen, so presumably this system has either failed somewhere or has just been completely overwhelmed. Attention should be paid to this by the powers that be, and solutions need to be developed.
the 2.3% of us who came to York for love are probably far happier than the careerists
Still, at least we’re not all coming to university purely to party as the middle-aged tabloid press would like you to believe. Not that they can actually blame you, since 30 per cent of us are cynical about the chances of getting a job after finishing regardless of your reasons for turning up in York every year. What motivation is there to behave studiously when you’re going on the dole after you’re done? Maybe that’s what’s been depressing everybody.
These figures, revealing a miserable, self-deprecating student body happen to come at the same time as Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, and David Willetts are busy storming up and down to country to try and reassure everyone that the average graduate is set to earn a far greater amount than the average non-graduate, which therefore justifies a rise in tuition fees. As one of the many who may be about to join the graduate scrapheap, the mood of students is not reflective of this confident government message on the economic sense of getting a university degree.
It’s obviously quite naive to boil down all student depression to economic woes. A closer analysis of what’s driving the misery for the 50 per cent must follow, but the endless drudgery of bad news on our prospects is not going to help. We are the first generation of graduates to mature into a world that may have no use for them. The existence of a cynical element in the student body that assumes the worst can be no surprise. The 2.3 per cent of us who came to York looking for love are probably far happier than the careerists among us.