The University College Scam

So once upon a time I was a student at a University College. University Colleges are a relatively new concept in the Netherlands. They are based on American teaching models: a university college delivers small scale international education and offer a 3-year bachelor’s program in liberal arts and science. Breaking with traditional Dutch education, university college offers a wide curriculum of courses, ranging from anthropology to sociology to literature to chemistry. Of course the study load is higher than the average university education, but excellence is required of the students. For admittance you need an impressive resume as well as passing an interview. This is an elite education after all. The first university college was founded in Utrecht in 1998. Several others have sprouted up all over the Netherlands, including Middelburg, Maastricht, Leiden, Amsterdam and Groningen.

The whole thing is of course one big scam. It is an intricate scam with 2 major red herrings to throw you off the trail:

1) Student life is very enjoyable. Students generally live together in semi-closed communities and develop tight bonds. They are treated as the future elite and behave as such. If there is one thing the cathedral always understood it is that students are to be treated as kings.

2) Professors aka the authority figures willingly cooperate with the scam of which they are not aware. The professors are given a sense of self-importance that they do not enjoy at regular universities. This in combination with small classes makes them more motivated and makes the learning experience as a whole more enjoyable.

Nonetheless a scam is a scam, no matter how many people will tell you the opposite. Bernie Madoff embezzled billions of dollars, university colleges scam thousands of students out of their time and money. The reason these university colleges convincingly present themselves as elite is because they pay tribute to the elite American universities (a.k.a. Harvard) and copy their material. Anthropology courses teach afrocentric feminism. Sociology courses teach how to democratise democracy. Psychology teaches about racial prejudice. The entire UC curriculum essentially boils down to the following: ‘this is what the cathedral demands of you and if you work hard you might just secure a high-ranking position. Journalism, the European Parliament, International Law, you name it.’ Which is exactly what the harder working students go on to do.

Naturally I am not one of those successful students. Being a natural dissenter I was actually kicked out of one sociology course in which the ‘professor’ shoved postmodernist discourse down our throat. ‘Nothing is real kids!’ It was too much for me. I remember highjacking the course and having fruitless discussions in which I argued that he might as well believe in Sinterklaas since truth was a social construct anyway. It did not end well. I remember running into a classmate afterwards who told me that ‘perhaps I was just not yet ready.’

In all honesty I was more concerned with getting laid in those days so besides that one course the whole political shenanigans did not bother me that much. It is only now once I’m wiser and older that I realise the grand scam that is university college: it is a well-packaged cathedral export product. Parents: don’t send your children to university college. Kids: don’t let the shiny colours fool you. It is a scam.