Without understanding what parts of the status quo are propped up by the mass import of people, and how, and why, any move to cut headline numbers is going to run aground on the consequences of so doing.
The commercialisation of higher education has helped transform once elite centres of learning into remedial sectors for failing comprehensives, too ready to take authoritarian cash.
According to a YouGov poll conducted only six days after the atrocities, a staggering 49 per cent of 18–24-year-olds in the UK ‘don’t know’ whether Hamas is a terrorist organisation. This is obscene and abhorrent.
I have written to university leaders, and will ask the Office for Students to investigate whether official responses to hateful conduct or open support for Hamas have been appropriate.
The lesson they will draw is: don’t risk letting the Many upset the apple cart that the Few have so artfully constructed.
Our university courses should look more like those in other countries and assume less specialist prior knowledge. Maybe the arrival of the Government’s four year life long learning loan is an opportunity for change.
If research were seen as an investment rather than a charitable donation, then the sector would enjoy higher levels of funding than it does now.
This leads us to the biggest danger of all – that the Conservative Party thinks it can fight a cultural war on the side of apprenticeships which are good against universities which are bad.
In this new system, collegesd would be allowed to set their own tuition fees for home undergraduates, above the level of the state loan.
Now that Labour has ceded the ground by deciding not to abolish tuition fees, the Conservative Party is uniquely positioned to steal a march on their opponent.
In terms of academic freedom, it is a game-changer. It is already having an impact – as can be seen by the way in which Oxford’s Student Union rapidly u-turned on a decision to bar the Oxford Union from Fresher’s Fair.
A bill was introduced in the 2021 Queen’s Speech that introduced a bold approach to restoring academic freedom and meaningful debate at universities. Why isn’t it yet in the Statute Book?
The electoral punishment of getting policy wrong now could be long-lasting.
A timely report – from Ed Balls, no less – suggests that a lack of graduates is not the reason for our productivity deficit. Rather, our productivity deficit explains the lack of graduate-level jobs.