Tag Archives: Mandelson

Crazy about HE

The last time I voted Labour (apart from the London Mayoral election) was 1997. My disillusion with New Labour under Tony Blair began almost immediately, and was due to his treatment of the Dearing Report on Higher Education. Higher education had been taken off the agenda of election issues by the appointment of the Dearing committee which wasn’t due to report until after the election was over. Blair took full advantage of the fact that when the report came out we were into the summer, when faculty are dispersed and least able to respond. He cherry-picked what he wanted and rammed it through, going against Dearing’s recommendations by introducing the combination of tuition fees and student loans. After this highly undemocratic behaviour, I never trusted Blair on anything. Continue reading


This morning I caught the end of a story on the BBC news which concluded ‘The government says it wants universities to treat students more like consumers’. I respond by emitting an exclamation which cannot be repeated in polite language. How long have we been suffering from this worse than asinine instrumentalism? This kind of consumerisation is the negation of all pedagogic values, which depend on a dialogue between teacher and pupil which does not exist between buyer and seller. Teaching and learning are not separate processes but a dialectic. To ignore this is a violation of the student’s humanity, a denial of the hope that education offers to intelligence and imagination (or what’s left of them after getting through the school system). I therefore refuse to comply. To do so I should consider to be a dereliction of my responsibility as a professor to show academic leadership. Continue reading