Tuesday, March 6

Boris on Universities

Boris Johnson in the Grauniad doing the modern-day touchy-feely hug-a-hoodie Cameroonian Conservative thing regarding Universities and funding - say very nice things about us, hint that they'd like to do very nice things for us, suggest it would be good if other people did nice things for us, but above all don't promise anything (and openly admit as such, since everyone knows that's what he'd do anyway).

Comments on the general thing - a promise to stop carping on about "mickey mouse" courses is a good thing. After all, you can't sit there demanding the universities cater for the free market and then promptly kick up a fuss when they cater to the free market. Besides, the vast majority of mickey mouse courses are from the old polytechnics who shouldn't have been turned into Universities in the first place, and left to do good work in the field of niche training courses (such as surfing studies, golf course management, etc - there's a lot of money in the leisure industry after all)

The top US universities have done quite remarkable things with their endowments. Only Oxford and Cambridge have endowments of any size at all compared to the average US university (indeed, only those two from all of Europe would figure). I rather suspect if the stupendously well rewarded Goldman Sachs brokers did decide to chuck their money at the universities rather than on expensive frivolities (or the retreat in the south of France that they can run away to after their 19th nervous breakdown) then it'll pretty much go to those two anyway.

Smashing the jam jars - well, science is a medium to long term process. If smashing the jam jars then means a bout of politically motivated merry go rounds with the money then it will indeed be a bad thing, as a project could have the cash pulled out from under it part way through. On the other hand, I think one could suggest that there could be better co-operation between certain funding bodies without scaring the horses (or stating anything that wasn't blatantly obvious).

Sale of assets - grief, surely Labour have sold everything that wasn't bolted down, then unbolted things to sell them, then sold the bolts.

And finally:
I still think the main point of a university education is to achieve a personal intellectual transformation

Does this include dressing up in fancy clothes and getting pissed, I wonder?

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