The dissolution of the universities

by reestheskin on 26/09/2016

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What defines a conservative? The answer must include reverence for institutions that have successfully stood the test of time and a deep belief in their autonomy. In the UK, no institutions have more successfully stood the test of time and none better illustrate the value of enduring autonomy than universities. So why does this government propose not only to turn them into the equivalent of purveyors of baked beans, but to seize the power to abolish their independence by administrative fiat? This disaster has to be stopped.

This is from Martin Wolf in the FT

And here is THE

Cambridge says: “The proposal for the OfS to make arrangements for the assessment of standards is an unprecedented extension of powers and contradicts a cornerstone of the UK higher education sector, namely that providers with degree awarding powers are responsible, as autonomous institutions, for the standard of their awards”.

The university also objects to powers for the OfS to revoke an institution’s degree-awarding powers or university title, even when granted by Royal Charter. “These sections effectively grant the OfS the competence to revoke parts of primary legislation and Royal Charters, without full parliamentary scrutiny,” says Cambridge.

Back to another FT article

Finally, this is no time to add to the challenges UK universities face. Legislation that will lower the barriers for new institutions offering degrees and introduce a controversial system to measure the quality of teaching requires caution. Further obligations — linking higher fees to the sponsorship of schools, for example — are an unhelpful distraction. Britain’s universities are a huge national strength — they need protection.

Finally from the recently published book by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe, ‘The Blunders of our Governments’.

In previous generations, foreign observers British politics viewed the British political system with something like awe. Governments in Britain was not only highly democratic: it was also astonishingly competent. It combined effectiveness with efficiency. British governments, unlike the governments of so many other countries, knew what they wanted to do and almost invariably succeeded in doing it. Textbooks in other countries were full of praise, and foreign political leaders often expressed regret that their own system of government could not be modelled on Britain’s. Sadly, the British system is no longer held up as a model, and we suspect one reason is that today’s British governments screw up so often. They screw up more often more most people seem to realise. Our strong impression is that, while a majority of Britons know about this, that or the other cock-up, they are by no means aware of the full range of them.

The worst aspect of all these acts of vandalism, it that they get in the way of the genuine change we need in higher education. Britain used to make great British cars, and if you ever visited Cardiff docks, like I did as a child with my father, you would see thousands of them, row upon row as far as you could see, ready for export.