There is a shocking epidemic sweeping St Andrews and no one ever talks about it. Almost every student in this University has an inbuilt bias against a certain social stratum, and many are not even aware that this prejudice exists. Some are too afraid to acknowledge that it does. This is a hugely important issue, and it needs to be addressed right now.
Have you ever looked out from your library desk on a Thursday after-noon and surveyed the people around you? While the group may appear somewhat diverse at first, soon it becomes apparent that a similar quality is shared by almost every single undergraduate: they are all between the ages of 18-25. This is unbelievable, undeniable, and unacceptable. I am sure this is common knowledge to you, and the statistics tell us that this is a fact, but have you ever questioned why? Nationally, less than 25 per cent of the population falls in this age bracket, and yet it makes up more than 95 per cent of university undergraduates. Where is the justice? Where is the out-cry? Where are the children, the toddlers, and the unborn?
This is having a great effect on the quality of our education. In tutorials we inwardly relate our course content to things that are close to our hearts; we might wonder how the Latin language influenced the works of J.K. Rowling and whether medieval England really was like Game of Thrones. How are we so blindly unaware of our academic tunnel vision? If the University had a greater representation of the youngest members of our society, we might consider what Celtic dance routines inspired Fortnite, or if Pewdiepie is the mod-ern embodiment of Beowulf, fighting off the Grendel of T-Series.
The University makes no apparent effort to even attract children in its prospectus. We see pictures of happy twenty-somethings aimlessly wandering around stunning medieval edifices, and wild images of revelry in Club 601. Do the admission staff not realise how off putting this is to the average seven-year-old? If there was a description of the University’s gaming provision, and perhaps some cool photographs of a well-attended Yu-Gi-Oh tournament we might see a representative number of applications from kiddos and tots.
However, this is not just a local issue, it runs nationally. Child representation at universities across the country is pitiful. Children make up 17-18 per cent of UK residents, so why are they well below one per cent of undergraduates? Barriers to entry are significant: A-Level and equivalent courses, the common prerequisite for entry into British universities, are specifically targeted at teenagers and their academic content is tailored for this age group. Similarly, student culture is very unwelcoming to non-adults. Statistics reveal that 20 per cent of students get drunk at least once a week, while 79 per cent agree that drinking is a part of university culture. In the UK the purchase of alcohol is illegal until the age of 18. Why are undergraduates not considering the detrimental effect this has on potential juvenile applicants? Why not swap the Jägerbomb for a cold glass of Sunny D, or an evening pint of Carling for a refreshing cup of breast milk? This is a tragedy, and we all have a hand in it.
However, there is reason to be optimistic; while this issue has laid dormant for so many unfortunate years, now, with articles like this, we can hope that it will be swiftly addressed.
Together we can dream of studying at a place where orange justice is danced every Friday night, and the corridors echo with Tik Tok anthems. Until then, I will not rest until every four year old in this sceptred isle is given the opportunity to don the red gown and enter these hallowed halls free from the worry of academic intolerance.