Thursday, 14 October 2010

Not so hegemonic any more

My august institution's vice-chancellor has posted her response to the Browne report on education. It's thoughtful and useful.

The real horror is this bit:

Browne has gone beyond his original remit by suggesting that public funding or ‘subsidy’ for higher education be limited only to clinical training programmes (price group A) and priority programmes (price group B and potentially some of price group C). The removal of all HEFCE funding for bands D and C would remove 75% of our teaching grant (many other universities would lose over 90% of their teaching grants) and to replace this funding we would have to charge all students £6,500 a year.
This means essentially that Browne has offered on behalf of the HE sector that we give up all public funding for humanities, arts and social sciences.
One of the overlooked awful ideas is that student funding will be limited to those above a certain level of attainment. On the face of it, this sounds fine, until you think about all our mature students whose schooling didn't ever plan for university, the students who went to poor schools, those who've turned their lives around after wasting their time in school, and those discriminated against for various reasons while at school (for which there is lots of very good evidence).

I'd better look for a new job.


Blossom said...

In my free local newspaper today, there is an article about a 25 year old man who has received a 'hero's welcome' by the neighbours in his street. He has just returned from some rehab centre after losing both legs, an eye, several fingers and suffering severe facial disfigurement. This was due to a bomb exploding near him when he was serving in Afghanistan, in January.

To show just what a hero he is, he has been awarded the Military Cross for going to the aid of wounded soldiers four times before being so catastrophically injured himself.

Let's be honest. Bar some miracle, this guy is f***ed. But in the great scheme of things, who cares about him? Going by the photograph, he and his family appear to be working class. His neighbours see him as a hero, not as a tragic victim.

Traditionally, aren't men serving on the front line mainly ridiculously young and from a working class background? And statistically, aren't nearly 50% of adults now seeking, or have a uni education, with presumably the intention of pursuing a good career?

Perhaps the government sees no wisdom in offering higher education to as many people as possible when they could instead be disposing of young men on battle fields. But at least these men will get a medal in place of their legs, so there aren't any losers.

Am I being cynical in believing that if young people from less privileged backgrounds have fewer options to a future, they are more likely to consider the armed forces?

The Plashing Vole said...

You're right: the army is the traditional escape route from poverty. It's even more institutionalised in the US, where you have a massive armed force of poor and uneducated people defending the interests of the elite. The difference between the UK and the US is that being a veteran in the US makes you eligible for huge amounts of educational support and funding, which is why there are so many novels and poems by veterans. OVer here, you're on the scrap heap. Wonder if this guy will hit the £26,000 benefits limit?