16 September 2010

Britain's decline as an educational force

The Guardian today reports the results of a Times Higher Education ranking of the world's universities, and notes:
The new list reflects concerns raised last week that Britain is lagging behind global competitors in its public investment in higher education. A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, published last week, found the share of public spending in British higher education is 0.7% of GDP, below the OECD average of 1%, and behind the US, Canada, Sweden, Germany, Poland and Slovenia.Announcing the OECD's results in London, Andreas Schleicher, the head of its indicators and analysis division, said Finland, Canada and Japan were now major players in higher education.
Professor Steve Smith, president of the vice-chancellors' umbrella group Universities UK, last week warned the government against squeezing university funding in the comprehensive spending review next month.
"My worry is that we may be about to make decisions that fundamentally undermine our future capacity to be a globally competitive knowledge economy," he told an audience of vice-chancellors.
Professor Smith's comments are rather amusing: I wonder where he has been for the last 30 years - the rot set in with  with the Thatcher attack on the universities in 1980, and this is where that regime has brought us. Now we have another right-wing party in power, with the same destructive urge towards all things in the public sphere. It has already announced that it will welcome the establishment of more private universities (which are essentially teaching mills) and it can't be long before it decides that universities in general are an unwelcome call on the public purse.

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