London Review of Books: Stefan Collini reviews two books on UK Higher Education

This article is an excellent review of two books on the changes in the UK Higher Education System. It is excellent reading – making coherent arguments on all the points that we as academics know to be true:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n20/stefan-collini/sold-out

The review is long and well worth reading in full. Here is the final paragraph:

“Future historians, pondering changes in British society from the 1980s onwards, will struggle to account for the following curious fact. Although British business enterprises have an extremely mixed record (frequently posting gigantic losses, mostly failing to match overseas competitors, scarcely benefiting the weaker groups in society), and although such arm’s length public institutions as museums and galleries, the BBC and the universities have by and large a very good record (universally acknowledged creativity, streets ahead of most of their international peers, positive forces for human development and social cohesion), nonetheless over the past three decades politicians have repeatedly attempted to force the second set of institutions to change so that they more closely resemble the first. Some of those historians may even wonder why at the time there was so little concerted protest at this deeply implausible programme. But they will at least record that, alongside its many other achievements, the coalition government took the decisive steps in helping to turn some first-rate universities into third-rate companies. If you still think the time for criticism is over, perhaps you’d better think again.”