A Really Stupid Policy from some Really Stupid People 21


A report today from Universities UK addresses the very real problem of underfunding in our universities, and suggests tution fees may need to double. In tandem, a BBC survey of Vice Chancellors and Principals in England and Wales finds that over half of them wish tuition fees to be at least £5,000 pa, and suggestions ranged from £4,000 to £20,000.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/7946912.stm

I feel called upon to make an ex cathedra pronouncement as Rector of the University of Dundee.

What a bunch of arseholes!

How did we reach the position where the people in charge of our institutions of higher learning are among the most stupid in the country? Only one third of them have retained half a marble. “Two thirds believed fees had not deterred applications from students from poorer families.”

That is a terrible condemnation of how remote these people are from their students in particular, and reality in general. The macho management culture that beset these isles led to these people becoming vastly overpaid and cosseted.

The Thatcherite New Labour system of a mass market for higher education, in which students pay, has never been tested in this country in a period of recession. It ran as a model only during the artificial boom of the Brown South Sea Bubble. At present it is mostly the very poor who are put off university by the levels of debt it entails. Whether demand will hold up as it becomes increasingly clear that the choice of whether to go to university will be between unemployment now, or unemployment in three or four years saddled with a huge debt, is still unclear. My money is that demand will be affected. To increase fees at the present would be a ridiculous gamble.

There is also, of course, the very real loss of social mobility. The deterrence to potential students from poorer backgrounds will worsen as the debt mountains become higher – and the number of people who have poorer backgrounds is about to rise substantially.

I regard the ending of the social mobility that came from free university education as the biggest single disaster of the Thatcher/Blair era.

The tragedy is that our universities could be fixed with under 1 per cent of the money that has been poured into the insatiable maw of corrupt financiers. Scotland’s universities need only an extra £200 miilion pa to return to financial soundness. For the UK, the figure is about £2 billion.

The failure of this stupid government to realise that universities are in fact more economically essential than the speculative wings of banks, is criminal.

The money must be found. But not from the students. And those leaders of universities who favour screwing the students further should be sacked en masse.

How the hell did they get the job in the first place?


21 thoughts on “A Really Stupid Policy from some Really Stupid People

  • anticant

    I went to one of the best universities in the country immediately after WW2 ended and my family made sacrifices to pay every penny. [This was in the days before there was free higher education.]

    As a learning experience it was extremely worthwhile, but I wonder what quality of educational experience today’s vastly expanded universities provide?

    The whole point of higher education should be to introduce students to standards of academic excellence and to stimulate their critical faculties. If it doesn’t do that, whatever it costs it is valueless.

  • john problem

    The Vice Chancellors and Principals are trying to blackmail the government into giving them more money by threatening price increases. It’s the government that is thick – it doesn’t really like higher education as it always sees it as elitist. They know that the biggest argument for an educated elite is themselves.

  • kathz

    Agreed. Universities may need more money but there’s nothing sensible about taking that money from people who don’t have it.

    This year, new graduates will leave universities with huge burdens of debt and little possibility of a decent job or a living wage. One of the causes of the current economic crisis is high levels of debt.

    It’s time for vice-chancellors to think about more than the perpetuation of their own institutions and jobs – to consider the debt and obligation universities have both the their students and the wider society.

    I am FURIOUS about the suggestion that students get further into debt. But then, I’m not a vice-chancellor. I’m just a university lecturer who watches promising students forced into debt, poverty, exploitative and degrading employment, malnourishment, mental illness and failure because the government (and vice-chancellors) can’t see that a large number of articulate, highly literate people, encouraged to think and act independently might be the best – or only – hope for the country and the world.

  • Frazer

    Debt, poverty,exploitive and degrading employment, mental illness and failure ?

    Sounds like the House Of Commons to me !

  • lwtc247

    “How did we reach the position where the people in charge of our institutions of higher learning are among the most stupid in the country?” – Simple! They got themselves a university education.

  • anticant

    I shall never forget overhearing, at a ‘think tank’ meeting some years ago, someone saying “I was at the Department of Education yesterday, and a senior official said to me ‘We don’t WANT a lot of highly educated people in this country, do we? They cause too much trouble!'”

  • owena

    I agree with Kath – if fees go up it just shifts the financial gap to student debt, which is already gettign pretty high. A full London loan for a 3 year degree was already gettign to 15k when i finished my masters, and the newer laon terms seem less friendly than the ones I am still under.

  • researcher

    What percentage of a university budget contributes to a better future for the common people ?

    Is the main purpose and effect of a University to

    churn out obedient bureaucrats for the empires of the banksters ?

    The repeated tests from school to university i saw in different fields

    mainly test adherence to the theories fed by the lecturers.

    The theories are often derived from faked and manipulated evidence,

    alternative theories usually suppressed.

    Intelligence is therefor suppressed, so graduates are

    only efficient in the purely technical fields like surgery or chemistry.

    In psychiatry for example they have practically no healing effect,

    only suppression by drugs, incarceration and surgery.

    In psychology they are no better then a good friend and often worse.

    In diplomacy and journalism they are good in supporting liars, killers and torturers.

    In agriculture they deplete the soils and poison our food.

    In medicine they are the leading cause of death (G.Null e.a., USA 2003).

  • mrjohn

    I looked at that and decided if my daughter wants to study at a British University I better start saving now, she is 2 and I am a salaried worker in Tokyo. Parents that can pay should, those that can’t should get state support, saddling kids with a debt is the way to get them started in life.

  • kathz

    The student loan (outside London) is £4,745 per year. In fact my daughter’s rent is more in university self-catering accommodation is more than £3,000 a year and she is also expected to pay for internet connection, books, equipment, etc as well as food. The university website suggests that most home students will be able to keep their total term-time expenditure below £10,000 a year and that students who manage to get the cheapest rooms on campus and walk everywhere might manage to spend little more than the student loan gives them. Students whose parents can’t subsidise them have choices: they can get jobs or acquire further debt. Jobs are likely to be highly exploitative in a recession – and may put other people out of work. Sources of debt are drying up. But vice-chancellors evidently live in a different world and are happy that universities should leech on the futures of their students.

  • AlexT

    As one of the students that had the living shite knocked out of me in the so called ‘Battle of Westminster Bridge’ back in 1988, I am saddened but not suprised by what has happened to higher education in the last 20 years. One of my many regrets is that I wasn’t able to do an M.A. at the R.C.A. because my Education Authority refused to fund another two years of my grant. On the other hand if I had gone to the R.C.A. I wouldn’t have spent the next year working in the Jungle of Southern Nepal and would have missed out on all those character building bouts of tropical disease and rhino charges – so swings and roundabouts.

  • David McKelvie

    My daughter finished at Edinburgh University nearly 10 years ago. She’s still paying off her student loans.

  • Phil

    Over the course of their working lives university graduates give the Chancellor enough “extra” (because, on average, they earn more than non-graduates) tax to pay for their education several times over.

  • Dave Nicholson

    Drank beer once with Jack Straw when he was leader of National Union of Students end I was SU President of my Poly at a NUS conference. We all had grants then and no fees. (His Beer was crap too)

    Now the ideology of the magic of the market has crashed , universities blocked research into Marxian or non capitalist research, hence the intellectual vacuum our leaders are in. Where are the Keynes’s of today?

    And today their rep said ” Charge what the market will bear!” They all think they are businesses not places of thought, reflection, ideas. Sell sell sell!

  • Dave Nicholson

    Drank beer once with Jack Straw when he was leader of National Union of Students end I was SU President of my Poly at a NUS conference. We all had grants and no fees. (His Beer was crap too)

    Now the ideology of the magic of the market has crashed , universities blocked research into Marxian or non capitalist research, hence the intellectual vacuum our leaders are in. Where are the Keynes’s of today?

    And today their rep said ” Charge what the market will bear!” They all think they are businesses not places of thought, reflection, ideas. Sell sell sell!

    Posted twice, sorry

  • Ruth

    Debt chains people down. Debt influences moral choices. Debt is good for a government that wants a subservient population which can be easily corrupted.

  • George Dutton

    Contest 2

    http://tinyurl.com/d267jt

    “denied public funds”

    Would that mean not entitled to social security benefits/NHS etc.

    “Contest 2 would widen the definition of extremists”

    Would that be anyone that holds a different opinion to the government…bloggers/members of other political parties etc.

    Read the next post down…

  • George Dutton

    “Stewart Jackson (Shadow Minister, Communities and Local Government; Peterborough, Conservative) Link to this | Hansard source | Video match this”

    “What discussions will the Secretary of State have with staff at Luton Jobcentre Plus about reviewing the benefit entitlements of the Islamist extremists who so disgracefully disrupted the Royal Anglian Regiment’s homecoming in Luton last week, given that, self-evidently, they were not available for work?”…

    http://tinyurl.com/cm3bag

  • mary

    You can read them like a book. This is the TheyWorkForYou Register of Interests entry for the said Islamophobe Stewart Jackson MP Peterborough (Con)

    6. Overseas visits

    7-11 July 2008, to Israel, hosted by Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), to gain an understanding of the current state of affairs in the region including East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights. CFI contributed the cost of flights, accommodation and some meals. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Official Guests Department) contributed to the costs of travel inside Israel, some accommodation and meals. (Registered 14 July 2008)

    Register last updated: 11 Mar 2009

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