• Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

The double-edged sword of PPE

ByAbigail King

Feb 28, 2024
Stack of philosophy books on a shelf

My degree killed this country. But it might also just be its saviour.

In the height of the pandemic PPE was synonymous with something very different to a degree in philosophy, politics and economics. But now that COVID is (somewhat) a thing of the past, the acronym has reclaimed its identity as the triple major degree that, partnered with Oxford and a group of privileged Tories, killed this country.

As one person complained to me, triple major students have a superiority complex. It’s true, we have egos so large that it makes it very difficult for our heads to fit through the library’s double door. We run around speaking in Latin, drinking double espressos, and pulling all nighters whilst finding any opportunity to tell someone what degree we do. We’re really quite horrendous people.

But I think our degree also provides a lot of the answers society has been missing. Fundamentally, this comes down to two intwined crimes the higher education system has been committing: the first is that you can study economics with politics. The second? You can study politics without economics.

It’s true. Our society has been ruined by economists who have no appreciation of the political and social ramification of their actions, and well-intentioned activists who lack the technical know-how to be taken seriously or suggest solutions that work practically. We need people to have a firm foundation in both, and as annoying as we are, PPE students cover that – with philosophy thrown in to feed our first-year-devouring, heinously sanctimonious egos.

David Cameron, Rishi Sunak, Ed Milliband, Liz Truss. The list of front-line politicians who studied PPE and subsequently screwed over the country is worryingly high. But this isn’t a fault of the degree. It’s a fault of wider institutions and backgrounds that have produced a handful of bad apples, from a reasonably mediocre, albeit pompous, bunch.

PPE students have a lot to reckon with, but the combination of subjects gives a wide based grounding that many in public service lack. If we want bankers with more conscience, politicians with more sense or civil servants with more between the ears then a couple of dazed out brain cells then PPE students from outside of Oxford offer a wide range of skills, with the humility of not being… ahem… one of them.

PPE teaches you the technicality of econ, humbles you in politics tutorials and sharpens your wit in mind-bending philosophy lectures. Of course I’m a biased referee, but as far as I’m concerned it’ not just the best degree but the potential saving grace of our society.

My Philosophy Bookshelf(top)” by jddunn is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

By Abigail King

Opinion Editor