The terrors of private universities

It is claimed that giving profit-making companies access to state funding will create a system in which institutions pursue short-term financial gains at the expense of a decent education.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph today, professors say that proposals spelt out in a recent higher education White Paper will “condemn generations of students” to an experience similar to that in the US where many undergraduates fail to complete their degree and struggle to pay off loans.

Academics including Prof Martin Hall, vice-chancellor of Salford University, Prof Alan Ryan, former warden of New College, Oxford, Lord Liddle, director of Cumbria University, and Prof Roger Brown, co-director of the Centre for Higher Education Research Development at Liverpool Hope University, called for the Government to reassess the reforms.

OK, let\’s reassess the reforms.

So, we\’ve already got a private university in the UK.

The University is ranked 21st out of the 115 universities in the UK in The Times Good University Guide 2012.[23]

In 2011 it was ranked 28th in Times Higher Education\’s \”Table of Tables\” 2011.[24] In 2011, The Independent, in association with its Complete University Guide 2011-12, ranked Buckingham as the 42nd best university out of 116 institutions in the UK.[25] The Sunday Times University guide for 2012 included Buckingham in its league tables in 56th position out of 122 UK higher education institutes[26].

Better than many, worse than some.

Think we can put that concern to bed then, eh? Full speed ahead it is then.

7 comments on “The terrors of private universities

  1. “In a letter to The Daily Telegraph today, professors say that proposals spelt out in a recent higher education White Paper will “condemn generations of students” to an experience similar to that in the US where many undergraduates fail to complete their degree and struggle to pay off loans.”

    The best comment I have seen on the Higher Education Bubble (thanks to Instapundit) so far was the suggestion that Universities ought to co-guarantee student loans. If the professors are worried about this, they can demand that private Universities in Britain also guarantee the loans of their students. Thus if they fail to complete, the University will be in hock.

    But in all fairness it ought to apply to all the Universities in Britain – public and private.

    And to all students, whether they can pay off their loans after graduation or not.

    That ought to cut down the number of useless degrees.

    (And for the record, Oxford and Cambridge are also private. They just don’t want to be and do all they can to ignore the fact they are.)

  2. It leads to confusion to import the American terms “private” and “public” for universities. Thus “And for the record, Oxford and Cambridge are also private” is misleading since they are no more nor less private than, say, the University of Leeds. No British university is, as far as I know, owned by an arm of the state; British university teachers are not civil servants (save perhaps for those with joint uni/NHS appointments, or the like). In that sense they are different from the public universities common on the continent, and the state universities in the USA.

    The distinctions that matter are (i) do they accept state funding? (ii) whether or not they do, are they set up as profit-making companies? If you need new words for those, get to it – but you’ll end up talking twaddle if you use the American words.

  3. Being against private universities has nothing about choice forcing professors to put students needs before their own would it?

  4. dearieme – “The distinctions that matter are (i) do they accept state funding? (ii) whether or not they do, are they set up as profit-making companies? If you need new words for those, get to it – but you’ll end up talking twaddle if you use the American words.”

    I am not importing American words. Not being, you know, American. The distinction between State-funded and non-State-funded universities is not that useful. After all, American ones do accept massive amounts of State funding. What they also did back in the 1950s is strongly fight for their independence. Universities like Yale and Harvard said that if the Federal government put conditions on the funding, they would do without the funding. So they got the money and kept their independence.

    Which brings me back to my point about Oxford and Cambridge. They too are independent. They too take the Queen’s shilling. But they do not want to be. They have no heart, no courage for a fight over their independence. So they spinelessly agree to anything the government asks of them. Because they want to be run by the government.

    Profit-making? Does Harvard record profits?

  5. “they spinelessly agree to anything the government asks of them. Because they want to be run by the government”

    I’ve not been following Cambridge, but this is the opposite of what John Hood and Andy Hamilton have actually been doing at Oxford.

  6. Academics including…

    Some from ex-polys, it seems. If these are the ones selected for naming, who are the rest? Head of Neyland Tech?

    an experience similar to that in the US where many undergraduates fail to complete their degree and struggle to pay off loans.

    As Chris Rock pointed out, strippers in the US are always “working their way through college”. Perhaps we’ll see an explosion of strip joints in Britain’s university towns?

  7. john b – “I’ve not been following Cambridge, but this is the opposite of what John Hood and Andy Hamilton have actually been doing at Oxford.”

    I would have thought that John Hood was a perfect example. Why do you think he has been doing anything even remotely opposed to what the government wants him to do?

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