The first and proudest boast of Education Secretary Alan Johnson's speech to the Labour Party conference involved the thousands of state schools refurbished with government money. This week's report on the state of university buildings suggests that something similar may be needed in the 21st century for the higher education system. For a third of buildings to be unfit for use or in need of major repair is a scandal - even if there has been a slight improvement since the last assessment five years ago - and one that makes no financial sense at a time when students are becoming more selective about their choice of institution. Teaching buildings are said to be generally the most neglected.
Some of the blame, according to the Government's independent consultants, lies with the institutions, which have failed to invest sufficiently and have prioritised poorly. They might have added that recent financial analyses have suggested that the means exist in universities to have done more. But the resources available in the sector fall far short of the £5 billion that the consultants believe is needed.