Lights out for lifelong learning? 2

November 16, 2007

John Denham is still being ?silly. He says he wants the university system to be representative; who doesn’t? What the intake of the most selective places “represents” is those who on the evidence of GCSE, A level and so on are best able to profit from their courses; we all know what their social origins are and what sort of schools they come from. The difference between him and me is that I don’t think universities can spot and nurture diamonds in the rough that their teachers and parents can’t identify, especially on top of doing our bit for the research assessment exercise, the Quality Assurance Agency and our students. Of course, we can and do do a bit for outreach, but it’s very small beer. Big shifts need governments committed to equality, not governments committed to making life easy for non-domiciles and houseowners wanting to pass on their unearned capital gains to their children — governments like the London County Council of 1946 that got me out of the gutter, not like New Labour.

Alan Ryan , Warden, New College, Oxford

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