Education Quality, International, Opinion, Required, Universities & Colleges - Written by on Friday, November 16, 2012 17:29 - 1 Comment

Heard: Academics In The UK Buck Against “Mercantile” Approach To Higher Ed

Bucking Mad Marc Soller via Compfight

A former poet laureate in the UK named Andrew Motion joined with other academics, writers and broadcasters to found the Council for the Defence of British Universities, which launched a new campaign against the effects of excessive market forces on higher education. Motion recently criticized the goverment’s “mercantile” approach to higher education. Imagine what he would say about the for-profit college industry in the US! Here’s what Peter Walker writes in The Guardian:

Motion, now professor of creative writing at the University of London’s Royal Holloway college, one of his many roles, said ministers were taking a short-term view of how universities should work, to the detriment of prosperity in the future and the wider cultural life of the nation.

Motion is among an eminent group of 65 academics, writers and broadcasters who have founded the Council for the Defence of British Universities, which is officially launched on Tuesday. They include winners of the Nobel prize and Fields medal, current and past British Academy presidents and eight Order of Merit members, among them household names such as Sir David Attenborough, Richard Dawkins, Dame AS Byatt, Alan Bennett, Lord Bragg and Michael Frayn. The group has been assembled by Sir Keith Thomas, the historian and former British Academy president, who believes government policy means the purpose of universities is “distorted by the attempt to create a market in higher education“.

Motion said this was coupled with a short-sighted focus on immediate economic benefits. He told the Guardian: “Mercantile is one way of putting it, which would cover a lot of the problems. There’s a hideous, little, short-term ‘Gradgrindism’ in the spirit of the government’s policies towards universities which encourages us to think that universities have to earn their keep, validate their existence, by frantically publishing at a tremendous rate and concentrating on very practical matters which might leave the humanities looking a little bit irrelevant. And that’s never a word I’d want to hear around any kind of study.”…

A BIS spokesperson said: “The coalition is determined to protect our world-class university sector. We have maintained the £4.6bn science and research budget, including the balance between blue skies and other research and the balance between scientific and other disciplines. ”Despite the deficit, we have avoided big cuts to student numbers and we have introduced a more sustainable student funding regime, which means universities have sufficient income to offer a high-quality student experience. We share the commitment to academic autonomy – one recent survey found we have the most autonomous universities anywhere in Europe.”

Via The Guardian


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Heard: Academics In The UK Buck Against “Mercantile” Approach To Higher Ed | WiredAcademic | Flexibility Enables Learning
Nov 16, 2012 20:48

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