Just one person's opinion, but in the teeth of the established opinion here our club is still thriving. I did see Kate Rusby there more than once (a few years ago admittedly) and she seemed to have a great love for the songs she was singing. Well, as much as you'd expect given that she spent her childhood building sandcastles on Fleetwood beach whilst her father ran the sound desk, and sang in the Young Performers there (as indeed did Tim Van Eyken - though not sandcastles, as far as I know). I don't know how many graduates of Newcastle we've had: a few I suspect including the Witches more than once. But half? Only one admitted to me doing the degree, and she came up through the Skipton club worshipping at the feet of Maggie Boyle (as should we all). We've just had Uiscedwr, with one graduate (and another attendee) of the Northern Music College. It didn't seem to have hurt their enthusiasm for the music. If some performers ask too much, we don't see them (no, I've no idea what the going rate is). Plenty more to fit in.
If this seems a bit wandering, it just seemed to me that opinions are being expressed as if they were proven facts rather than suppositions, and a bit of contrary evidence was needed. I don't understand how three years honing your craft, and learning a bit in the process (well, being taught a bit anyway) can do anything but good. If some can convert that into a negative, it seems to say more about their outlook on life in general than about the value of the course. So one of students is a prat, it is still better that he be a competent musician than an incompetent one.
I don't care that performer X is doing wonders whilst steering clear of traditional outlets: good luck to him. There was a chasm between the traditional folkies and the protest songwriters when I was but a lad. Then there was the folk "entertainers", who used the clubs as a route into professional comedy (or not). There have always been those who flirted with popular music as a means of refreshing the roots/waking up the fuddy-duddies/doing their own thing, man. Chose your own interpretation, but folk music has always been a broad church. There is much variety around now, but it doesn't mean The End Of The Known World.