Lacking in a logical sense, incoherent, self-contradictory, divorced from the very cause and effect that they claim we need to “get real” and understand.
And lacking in a spiritual sense, without a dream, a vision, an inspiration, a sense of any purpose beyond one number rising as another falls. They show us a balance sheet, we show them the stars… and the gods, and the artists, and the dreamers dreaming.
1. These cuts will be one great big short sharp shock, and we’ll lose any number of institutions, with the government hoping that any extraneous costs in legal fees, redundancy etc will be more than offset by the increased savings. Carnage, basically.
2. These cuts will be tapered, to mesh with the rising fee take. Given that we’ve calculated the total unit of resource is about £7000 anyway, we wouldn’t see any overall loss in resource assuming that we see the same number of students overall. As that last clause is clearly not going to happen we will still see a certain amount of carnage, but not as much as in option 1.
Universities (and colleges) are supported by public funds to do research. They teach students, at undergraduate and post-graduate level, with a combination of state funding and student contributions. They work (at least partially) to meet the needs of local and national employers, and of professional bodies. And they administrate themselves, via academic managers with professional managerial support. (this isn’t a real quote, but it sounds about right)
“The general principles of any study you may learn by books at home; but the detail, the colour, the tone, the air, the life which makes it live in us, you must catch all these from those in whom it lives already. You must imitate the student in French or German, who is not content with his grammar, but goes to Paris or Dresden: you must take example from the young artist, who aspires to visit the great Masters in Florence and in Rome. Till we have discovered some intellectual daguerreotype, which takes off the course of thought, and the form, lineaments, and features of truth, as completely and minutely as the optical instrument reproduces the sensible object, we must come to the teachers of wisdom to learn wisdom, we must repair to the fountain, and drink there. Portions of it may go from thence to the ends of the earth by means of books; but the fullness is in one place alone. It is in such assemblages and congregations of intellect that books themselves, the masterpieces of human genius, are written, or at least originated.”
“The nature of the case and the history of philosophy combine to recommend to us this division of intellectual labour between Academies and Universities. To discover and to teach are distinct functions; they are also distinct gifts, and are not commonly found united in the same person. He, too, who spends his day in dispensing his existing knowledge to all comers is unlikely to have either leisure or energy to acquire new.”
- The “redbrick” and “civic” universities, largely established by groups of industrialist benefactors, placed particular emphasis on meeting the technological demands of the fast-changing Victorian era.
- The “Robbins Report”, or “plate-glass”, universities, where all Colleges of Advanced Technology (originally organised to meet the industrial and commercial needs in a given locality) gained degree awarding powers
- The “New”, or “post 92″ universities, where polytechnics and HE Colleges already embedded in local employment markets gained degree awarding powers.
- The Open University specifically allowed students to study whilst in full time employment.
- And those readers sitting in “ancient” universities may want to consider the links between their seat of learning and the Church, the principal employer of university graduates for many centuries.
And as for the academic leadership of Universities, just to give one example the University of Cambridge Congregation appointed “proctors” to deal with the finance, infrastructure and PR activity of the medieval university.
With this in mind, we can surmise that the current state of the university system in the UK is a function of many interventions, by government and employers, over nearly 1000 years. But is what we have ended up with worth defending?
Selected background and further reading:
Anderson, Robert, “The Idea of a University Today“, (History and Policy, March 2010)
“A Brief History of the University of Cambridge“, (cam.ac.uk, accessed October 2010)
Dyhouse, Carol, “Going to University: Funding, Costs, Benefits” (History and Policy, August 2007)
Hutchinson, Eric, “The History of the University Grants Committee” (Minerva vol 13 number 4, December 1975)
“A history of congregation and convocation“, (ox.ac.uk, accessed October 2010)
Also, the legend that is Joss Winn pointed me to this amazing paper, which covers the changes of the 80s in much more depth.
Finlayson, Gordon, and Hayward, Danny, “Education towards Heteronomy: A Critical Analysis of the Reform of UK Universities since 1978. ” (http://www.jamesgordonfinlayson.net, accessed October 2010)