I graduated from the University of Manchester in 1987 with no debt. I paid no fees and received a maintenance grant to earn a degree in Politics and Modern History. If my seventeen year old son were to follow in my footsteps he would graduate with debts of at least £50,000 and were he to study in London that could rise to £90,000. In the space of a generation we have witnessed the destruction of the public university.
So claims James Vernon, in his excellent article The end of the public university in England, published this week.
the Browne Report recommends the complete withdrawal of public funding for the teaching of the arts, humanities and social sciences, he provides an impassioned and well reasoned argument against the current proposals and policy trajectory of the last twenty years.
I'm in total agreement that in light of the recent announcement of a 40% cut in the higher education teaching budget for England, this is a crucial time for defending the role of public, universal universities in what seems to me to be a century of increasing uncertainty and social disempowerment in the name of economic progress. As Vernon so eloquently puts it,
economic utility is not the measure of who we are or who we want to become.