On the understanding of economics in academia

This is rather illustrative:

While it won\’t cost more to get an Oxbridge degree, some dons have made the compelling argument that if Oxford and Cambridge are serious about increasing their traditionally poor access to students from less affluent backgrounds, they would do well to charge less than other universities.

Yes, that\’s right, our English Don is suggesting that the universities for which there is the highest demand should charge lower fees.

14 thoughts on “On the understanding of economics in academia”

  1. Rationing doesn’t have to be done by price: it could be done by ability/selection, as was done not too long ago, and is still done currently to some extent (with 0<fees<real cost).

    However, our English Don is suggesting giving places to people with neither the money nor the ability.

  2. “their traditionally poor access to students from less affluent backgrounds”: only if you date tradition to the success of the Forces of Progress’s successfully philistine assault on the schools.

  3. One of the more irritating features of this blog is the long-running pursance (by sneers an innuendo) of the Two Cultures Debate on whether an education in the sciences or humanities is more worthwhile .
    An English don cannot know anything about economics? Strange when so many writers (like Ezra Pound) had a clear apprehension of Economics.At the end of the war ,(pursued in part for scientifically respectable eugenic aims) he ended up in a cage at the American Military Detention Centre at Pisa: Werner von Braun sold his scientific expertise to the Americans without awkward questions.
    According to the logic sketched in above ,competition tends to put up prices : the most popular producers should maintain a high price level.Hmmn.And markets are always and everywhere good?
    Surely the debate now should be: how come highly respected ( and paid) scientists have n’t the wit to realise siting nuclear plants in areas liable to heavy flooding is dangerous and stupid?

    Tim adds: You’ll not win fans around here by praising Ezra’s economics you know. Fascism isn’t quite what we tend to recommend. And nuclear by hte water? That’s because nuclear requires vast amounts of water in normal operation…..

  4. Surreptitious Evil

    It’s not that a generic “English don” cannot know anything about economics – that is clearly fallacious. It is that this particular English don equally clearly doesn’t know anything about the subject.

    And, anyway, the solution is obvious – bring back the direct-grant grammar and go back to providing means-tested government bursaries to meet the fees for Russell Group universities.

  5. “Cambridge raised a billion pounds from its 800th Year Campaign which concluded last year.”

    Who did they raise it from? From their alumni.

    Which other UK universities have alumni that can generate that sort of cash? Very few.

    What’s the inference from this? Graduating from Cambridge is likely to be worth more than graduating from most other UK universities.

  6. “..the Two Cultures Debate on whether an education in the sciences or humanities is more worthwhile .”
    Sorry, didn’t realise there was one. Science = useful learning. Humanities=mostly self regarding bollocks.

  7. “Humanities=mostly self regarding bollocks”: it needn’t be, I’m sure, but when it is that’s largely the fault of the English dons and their like..

  8. diogenes
    That’s not prejudice, that’s experience.
    And I wasn’t aware there was such a thing as ‘climate science’.

  9. When I was young the majority of Oxford undergraduates came from (free) state schools. Manchester Grammar in particular. A lot of the public schoolboys had been scholars (i.e. their school fees had been subsidised by charitable endowments – in the case of one orphan I knew it was widely rumoured that the total his mother paid was noticeably less than she would have spent to feed him if he had been living at home).
    Ms Gopal either doesn’t know what she is talking about or ….

  10. The amount by which some Oxbridge colleges subsidise each undergraduate from their endowments and gifts from alumni exceed the amount that the student pays in fees.
    The increase in fees for those who can afford them is offset by increasing the subsidies for those who cannot. If Ms Gopal bothered to check the facts, she wouldn’t be asked to write for the Guardian

  11. So Much For Subtlety

    DBC Reed – “One of the more irritating features of this blog is the long-running pursance (by sneers an innuendo) of the Two Cultures Debate on whether an education in the sciences or humanities is more worthwhile .”

    Which is odd because I doubt that our genial host has much education in the sciences worth mentioning. If he knows stuff about metals, it is because he learned it on his own, surely. Isn’t his background vaguely economics?

    However even if he did a degree in Physics, the complaint is wrong as he is criticising someone for not knowing better. Admittedly this one is a particularly thick truck of wood, even as English academics go, but he is bemoaning the clear existence of Two Cultures here.

    “An English don cannot know anything about economics?”

    This one does not. Nor much about anything as it happens. Even among world-class bullsh!t artists, she is full of it.

    “Strange when so many writers (like Ezra Pound) had a clear apprehension of Economics.”

    An understanding that took him into Fascism.

    “At the end of the war ,(pursued in part for scientifically respectable eugenic aims)”

    Sorry but what aims would these be?

    “Surely the debate now should be: how come highly respected ( and paid) scientists have n’t the wit to realise siting nuclear plants in areas liable to heavy flooding is dangerous and stupid?”

    Because it isn’t. Nuclear power plants need a lot of cooling water. In fact California had to shut theirs down a few years back because of a local drought. At least those that operate at these relatively low temperatures do. A gas-cooled reactor in the next generation may be more efficient. But it is also a choice of evils. These Japanese reactors meant that waste did not have to travel by train. They were loaded directly on to ships. You see the trade offs? They made, I think, the right choice.

  12. DBCR must be a scientist who can’t write English: “At the end of the war ,(pursued in part for scientifically respectable eugenic aims) he ended up in a cage”. Was the war pursued in part for respectable eugenic aims (ie, by that nice Mr Hitler)? Or was pound pursued at the end of the war for having had respectable eugenic aims? Or maybe Pound pursued the war for respectable eugenic aims. Who knows? And please do not elaborate on what a WW2-era “respectable eugenic aim” might be in the first place. we’ll be getting economics from Mr Galliano next.

  13. @AM
    Eugenics was a well established science in the 20’s and 30’s and there were university chairs in the subject.HG Wells and Shaw were proponents of the ideal of a eugenically cleansed society: GK Chesterton was one of the few public intellectuals to stand out against it.Hitler ,of course, took the eugenicists at their word whereupon the science of eugenics subsequently went out of fashion ( Eugenics had been very left wing:the most socialist part of Hitler’s ideology was possibly the eugenics programme.)
    But this is mere history something scientists and the Coalition not only ignore but actively discriminate against in the sense that the present
    Government’s aim is to withdraw funding from the Humanities in universities. However it remains a fact that the only dons likely to debate the arguments of Wells ,Shaw,Chesterton and Pound are in English departments.
    (As regards the latter: I have read a great deal of Pound,including the transcripts of broadcasts
    which put him in the cage at Pisa, and he spends his time recommending the economics of Major Douglas and Silvio Gesell working from Greenback background. Gesell, whose other major admirer was Keynes,produced theories of the velocity of money which are still relevant/more relevant.The old Greenback /Douglas idea that credit should be created by the public sector and not the private sector banks is also seen as relevant now .
    The idea that science education is more useful
    is ludicrous.The maths curriculum is full of junk which no non-specialist ever uses;any sentient child realises that algebra has no practical application in everyday life whatsoever.The multiplication of fractions where the product is smaller than the original terms is contrary to the reason of most young children and the teaching of it might qualify as child abuse in a more sensitive society.And the hours and hours wasted doing it.

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