Market gains

October 9, 2014

The report on the colloquium on the marketisation of higher education held at the University of West London to celebrate the work of Roger Brown, with notes on inputs from Joanna Williams and Patrick Ainley, makes most interesting reading (“Scholars or toddlers? Charters ‘infantilise’ students, forum hears”, News, 2 October).

The issue is the changing model of the university and, in particular, the delivery of its academic mission. In effect we are witnessing an evolving model of the university as it reabsorbs more narrowly defined professional (vocational) training.

The three named contributors appear to denigrate the current impact of the pressures of marketisation. But perhaps the move towards the market reflects a more positive student input (who hopefully are more able to obtain jobs), a clear gain to higher education institutions (thanks to enhanced funding), and to the public policymaking bodies, which may feel that at long last this still reasonably generously publicly funded sector of society is finally about to make a more substantial contribution to the benefit of the wider society.

For us, however, the key issue is who should control the academic goals of the university. For a serious overview of this conundrum, see our book, Reshaping the University: The Rise of the Regulated Market in Higher Education (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Ted Tapper
Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies

David Palfreyman
Bursar, New College, Oxford

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