Polys and politics 1

September 7, 2007

The article "Former polytechnics spread their wings" (August 31) is notable for the repetition of the word "market" in conjunction with the development of the former polytechnics. Since 1988, these had been ruled by Government mini quangos formed of self-perpetuating boards with a required majority of businessmen and financiers. Once established, they were grafted onto the root stock of the older universities. Thus was Government able to change the idea of a university into that of a commercial organisation competing in a marketplace. As a result, the sector rapidly degenerated into a free-for-all concerned with the buying and selling of information disguised as knowledge.

Governments of both political persuasions can look back on the past 20 years and claim that they have brought higher education to the point where it responds to their agenda.

Within that narrow framework this is no doubt true; but to what extent has the greater cause of the advancement of human knowledge been served?

Robin Metcalf
Conwy

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