University as Public Currency

A university is not a scientific hothouse with some frills around the edges – such as the humanities – generating off-the-peg ideas for business to patent and commercialise. It is an independent, autonomous institution housing multiple academic disciplines whose cross-fertilisations and serendipities lie at the heart of the capacity to enlarge the knowledge base. It is consecrated to delivering knowledge as intellectually held in common – why the freedom to research, to publish and to disseminate is the sine qua non of academic life. It is a public, open institution, so a private university is a contradiction in terms. Knowledge, and the qualifications that go with it, is necessarily public currency.

Will Hutton, in today’s Observer.

The knowledge economy is massively dependent on the intellectual powerhouse of higher education, and a critical ingredient of that is its capacity to sustain high levels of postgraduate training and development. That capacity is under threat at the present time from the concomitant effects of the huge rise in undergraduate fees and the decisions by the research councils in the UK to withdraw support from taught masters courses.

Just another example of the current UK Government’s willingness to allow ideology and self-interest to trump what is good for the country in the long run. As in schools, so in higher education too.