28 March 2011

The barbarians at the gates (of academe)

The barbarians in question are the Tory-led government of the UK.  Not content with removing teaching support monies from the arts and humanities - this is from today's Independent interview with the author, David Lodge:

Under the Government's proposals, funding for teaching all university subjects bar maths, science, technology, engineering and some language courses will be gradually phased out over the next three years – with the arts and humanities having to rely on income from students through fees to support them.

the latest move is to require the Arts and Humanities Research Council to support research into the political slogan, "the big society", otherwise its funding would be reduced.  Of course, this is not the first time that a right wing government has brandished its whip over the research councils.  Back in the Thatcher era, the Iron Lady's guru, education minister, Sir Keith Joseph, required the Social Sciences Research Council to change its name, otherwise funding would be withheld, so we now have the Economic and Social Research Council, which, seemingly, has never had a sufficiently courageous leadership to change the name back again.

How much further will these fascist-like attacks on the universities in the UK go?  I doubt if this government has any limits and the fact that they are supported by the Liberal Democrats is particularly sickening.  Once upon a time this was the Liberal Party - the party that introduced the welfare state. Now it appears to be so enamoured of its ministerial red boxes that its principles have gone out of the window.

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