PITY poor Rishi Sunak. Alright, don't pity him. Merely observe the indignity of being Rishi Sunak and spending every day overshadowed by Liz Truss.

It's such a foregone conclusion that Truss will be Britain's next prime minister that, with the current topsy-turvy way of the world, we're likely to end up with Sunak. In the meantime, old Dishy Rishi can't have failed to notice the way newspapers and news websites give prime space to his rival and bump him down the agenda.

He can't get it right on much. And he certainly didn't get it right last week in his comments on degrees. The former chancellor said his post-16 education reforms would be “a significant stride towards parity of esteem" between vocational qualifications and academic, which is a laudable goal.

What everybody heard, however, was the bit about phasing out degrees that don't boost a student's "earning potential". Cue anguish from those of us who studied English Literature and think-pieces from those whose lives were changed by an arts degree.

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I mean, I can hardly argue with Sunak when it comes to money. I was cycling home the other day and became briefly stuck behind a bus. There I was, as my gran used to say, sat there sitting, waiting for a green light, and I noticed the bus sported a recruitment advert for drivers. Despite being two degrees down, I noted that I would earn about the same as a driver for First Glasgow than I do in my current role as chief reporter, and work a fair chunk fewer hours.

Thing is, I really like my job and, having driven a bus, I wouldn't swap you. "A good education," Mr Sunak said, "Is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet when it comes to making people’s lives better."

Well, it is and it isn't. Like the phrase "good school", "good education" is largely meaningless unless you factor in an individual's home life and try to create parity of circumstance. Two students might have the same educational experience in the lecture hall but their outcome is going to be affected by everything that happens outwith tutorials.

PwC has become the second of the Big Four accounting firms to announce that graduates will no longer need a 2:1 to work for the firm, in an attempt to increase "socio-economic diversity". On one hand, one might take umbrage at the notion that students from more straightened economic backgrounds would be likely to do less well than their well off peers.

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One the other hand, let's be realistic. Finally, and rightly, schools, and the institutions around schools, have started to acknowledge that life is trickier for working class students than it is for middle class students. We know that learning capacity is negatively affected by poverty, caring responsibilities and lack of extra education supports such as private tutors.

These issues don't magically vanish at university. If mum and dad can largely bankroll you through a degree then you're at an advantage to a classmate who's juggling studies with a part time job. If you are still caring for a parent or sibling, then ditto.

On the back of this I received several press releases yesterday from firms that already generously take people with a Desmond. One said it allowed the company to "build a dynamic workforce of people from all walks of life".

I largely disliked taking my first degree, mainly because I had no idea at all what was going on and had no one to ask. One of these press releases added that accepting folk with a 2:2 meant that 36 per cent of its staff were the first in their family to go to university.

Having to navigate uni without guidance from parents who've been there and done that is another significant disadvantage.

PwC acknowledges that talented young people might not have top degree marks but still possess the right attributes for a career with the firm. By ditching the 2:1 criteria, it says it opens up recruitment to an additional 70,000 students a year. That's quite a talent pool.

PwC is trailing behind the accountancy firm EY here: it dropped its 2.1 requirement in 2015, having found “no evidence” that success at university was correlated with professional achievement.

Deloitte and KPMG also say they are "flexible" around degree marks, particularly for people from lower income households.

We should battle against any notion that undermines learning for learning's sake - education is not only about cold pragmatism or a hard path to earning potential.

If we're going to talk about education in terms of outcome, however, we can't uncouple that from conversations about providing students with both financial and practical support. Creating a level playing field is acknowledging that higher education success, talent and potential are about far more than degree awards or subjects.