The recent gov’t white paper (http://tinyurl.com/heartofsystem) of course contains some sentiments that on the face of it few would find hard to disagree with and it seems churlish to knee jerk with negativity. Given that the view is now firmly entrenched (by many in HE it must be said) that HE’s role is primarily to produce a workforce that can compete in a global market, and that students are now consumers of a product, the statements make sense in that context. However, and you knew this would come, this does nothing to address the challenges faced by critical disciplines in the humanities and social sciences whose raison d’etre, as disciplines, does not fit this intrumentalist model of HE. I really fear that only the very well off will now spend £27,000 + to study what may be seen as esoteric subjects that are not immediately aligned to well paid employment. And don’t give me the guff about not paying that back until a threshold of earnings has been reached, as students will clearly see this as investment they have to make for payback in a career.
This is the continuing triumph of neoliberal philosophy applied to HE, my only hope is that students may see through this and that I am worrying needlessly because of an ideological position I am taking. As an afterthought, how did C Wright Mills gain employment in Columbia given the instrumentalist and often private nature of US HE? Anyone know? His ‘star status’ now may gain him entry into Grayling et al’s New College?