Far from the final word on Browne's review 6

October 21, 2010

Drawing parallels between contemporary UK politics and British colonialism in India, Africa and New Zealand may be unpalatable for the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in the coalition government, but recent threats of funding cuts to universities remind me of late 19th-century colonial education policies.

The class-based educational system that was developed to uphold British colonialism is being replicated today and imposed on Britain's own citizens to uphold the interests of the market and finance capital. Higher education is a soft target of the ruling class at a time of economic crisis.

The quintessential trend to transform mass education into class education was at the centre of Lord Macaulay's education policies in colonial India. The argument was to create a special class of people because "it is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect."

The idea of mass education is not concomitant with the interests of the capitalist market and the state power that represents it. A critical scholarship questions the ruling class, its power, authority and relevance. Thus, for the rulers, it is imperative to create a class of people who can be subservient agents and work as interpreter between state and market.

Browne's review of UK higher education policy is aimed at achieving such objectives.

Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Caledonian Business School, Glasgow Caledonian University.

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