Anti-reform dogma

January 20, 2006

Bob Brecher's piece on the facts of life for many students is a triumph of dogma over reality ("Why are the best degrees for sale?", Working Knowledge, January 13).

The idea that university education is about to "revert to the dystopic condition of the 1920s and 1930s" because of Labour's reforms is ludicrous. Perhaps Brecher could remind us of some of the similarities he is alluding to, because I cannot see too many.

No matter how many times you trot out the latest "Boo!" words of what passes for modern leftism ("commodification", "neoliberalism" and so on) to describe the situation of mass higher education in contemporary Britain, Brecher's account remains implausible. To argue that the super-union for lecturers needs to "mount an overtly political campaign for a redistributivist system of financial support" ignores the fact that the current tuition fees and student support arrangements have widespread support from all social classes.

Labour's reforms should be supported because expansion of higher education is a worthy and popular aim, as the Tories seem to have realised.

Dan Ferrett
Oxford Brookes University

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