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Universities are under attack – time to drag the fight to a higher level

For months, Universities have been on trial in the court of public opinion. David Willetts’s new book shows them how to respond: with passion and sophistication

Yesterday there appeared the latest in a long series of articles that, through the medium of superficial analysis, mounts a damaging attack on Britain’s universities. The piece, published by the BBC, rehearses the debates over tuition fees, student satisfaction, sky-high vice-chancellor salaries, and the universities minister’s recent criticism of free speech at our institutions of higher Education. To be fair to the BBC’s education correspondent, he doesn’t appear to have an agenda but his diagnoses betrayed the same lack of familiarly of structural and operational realities that have so weakened the criticisms made by Andrew Adonis and Simon Jenkins.

We might have hoped for more substantial critique from the minister, but Jo Johnson’s most recent pronouncements, on two-year degrees and on the troublesome debates embroiling students around freedom of speech have been disappointingly thin on evidence and detail. They were so easily debunked that I am beginning to suspect that Johnson is more interested in catching the eye of the right-wing press – and the prime minister – than in constructing useful policy for Higher Education. The appointment to the board of the Office for Students of Toby Young, a journalist with dubious and poorly supported views on diversity and eugenics, appears to follow a similar pattern.

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from Education | The Guardian

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Universities are under attack – time to drag the fight to a higher level


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