Friday, 19 August 2011

It's heartbreaking because it's true

Over at the Guardian, Stefan Collini paints a very bleak picture of higher education's future, and explains the disgusting and third-rate thinking behind the government's plans.

Particularly relevant to us here at The Hegemon is this bit:
It's true that if they go to the handful of "top" universities that will do well out of the new system they may not notice much change, except that a higher proportion of their fellow students will come from comfortable backgrounds. But if they go to the majority of universities, especially to those which in the past two decades have been the main vehicles for the great educational enfranchisement of people from social groups that did not previously go to university, then they will see signs of reduced resources all around them. In some cases their "student experience" may quite closely resemble their current social experience – boarded-up departments, dilapidated buildings, low morale, a resentful sense that the cards are stacked in favour of the few rather than the many.

For all our faults, we specialise in taking those students posher universities somehow excel at excluding: the poor, the provincial, the mature students, those from ethnic minorities and those who've struggled at - or been failed by - school and work. Our government seems to believe that the 'best' will rise to the top by a form of magic. We believe otherwise.

Actually, there is a magic formula for getting to the top in this country: it's private school + Oxbridge + inherited £millions + contacts + being white and male. You can spot these people everywhere, and the one thing that unites them is their conviction that they got where they are through hard work and individual genius, and that anyone who doesn't do likewise is therefore a failure. Can you genuinely imagine Cameron, Osborne, Johnson, or any of the myriad TV presenters, celebrity comedians/lawyers/journalists reaching the tops of their professions if they'd started off at Grim Comp, Stoke?

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