Collini on British Higher Education

Stefan Collini in the London Review of Books (via Thom Brooks). Some choice excerpts, but the whole thing is well worth a read, and while the specifics are to the UK, this is surely relevant much further afield.

Whether one is broadly in favour of the new fee regime or not, there can be no denying that the policy-making process in the last eight months has been a shambles…

As always, despite the disingenuous use of terms such as ‘best’, the real assumption behind such reasoning is that academics are idle slackers who will do their job only if the whip of competition is applied to their flanks…

For most school-leavers, applying to university is a one-off event: it is more like getting married than like buying soap powder. It cannot primarily be price-sensitive, adaptive, feedback-governed consumer behaviour…

But these financial calculations do not go to the root of the matter. The inescapable conclusion is that this huge gamble with one of the world’s most successful systems of higher education is being taken in order to bring universities to heel…

The case against the White Paper, and against the shift in public discourse that it both reflects and tries to push further, does not involve the repudiation of economic reasoning any more than it involves some supposedly utopian disregard for the financial cost of public services, education included…

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