Once a mechanism whereby smart people could raise themselves above humble beginnings and obtain a worthwhile qualification indicating a high probability of being employable. Now a complete con to get kids with high hopes into insurmountable amounts of debt before they even think about buying a house.. then they discover that the job they trained for was entirely fictitious, and they'll have to take any job they can get. At this point, they realise they should have gone into benefit fraud and drug dealing like all their "stupid" friends, who now have houses, cars and big screen TVs.
John always did well in his school classes, and did three A-Levels and got good grades. He went to uni for three years which put him about £30,000 in debt. When he finished his course he found that his degree counted for very little, since he had no experience and the other 400 job applicants also had degrees. He took a job as a sales rep with Coca-Cola, but got fired when he went to an interview for a better job. Meanwhile the cost of living rose exponentially, and by the age of 24, John's debts stood at around £45,000. This was before he even got a mortgage. A couple of years afterwards he divorced his wife on the grounds of infidelity, but she got custody of the kids, and now he doesn't even get to see them despite paying atrocious amounts of child support. Welcome to Blair's Britain.