Letter: Wolves are waiting

March 8, 2002

Mike Baxter's "unbundled university" ("For a bit more security and satisfaction 'unbundle'", THES , March 1) relies on the myth that business is superior to public services and better suited to delivering educational provision. It is not. Anyone working in higher education would think twice before becoming an academic cipher delivering pre-packaged courses. Private for-profit universities provide the bare elements of higher education and none of the social responsibilities. They will never be the public institutions necessary for knowledge creation and sustaining democracy and cultural life.

Higher education has cut costs and moved debt and borrowing off the books by outsourcing services. There is no evidence that this has improved performance. Corporate interest in privatisation is for a guaranteed long-term income stream for refinancing and increasing share value. The favouring of financial markets in funding HE is like inviting a pack of wolves into a room full of sheep.

Jonathan Rutherford
Reader in cultural studies
Middlesex University

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