The Head of our Economics Department, Professor Patrick Freedperson, has vigorously defended the present government’s implementation of the student loan scheme.
He admitted that there were “cynical troublemakers” who “might just argue” that the recent decision by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to sell a student loan book worth £890 million to a commercial debt collecting company for £160 million was a crass example of how a private company could be allowed to make a fat profit from public debt.
He also agreed that there were “malicious critics” who “might just argue” that David Willetts, the minister for universities and science, had, for expedient political reasons, consistently underestimated the proportion of student loans that would be repaid to such an extent that swingeing cuts would now have to be made to future university allocations in order to make up the massive yet predictable losses.
Professor Freedperson also conceded that there were “committed ideologues” who “might just argue” that the present dramatic rise in the cost of student loans had been produced by the absurdly reckless manner in which very large and quite uncontrolled numbers of such loans had been handed out to students on courses run by private colleges.
And he also allowed that there were “dyed-in-the-wool Lefties” who “might draw attention” to the disturbing fact that a quarter of new private courses have commercial company Pearson as their awarding body, thus ensuring a pay-off to that company of more than £150 for each registered student.
He also conceded that there were those “of a Marxist persuasion” who “might just argue” that this whole sorry student loan situation was the direct result of the present government’s persistent ideological commitment to introducing market forces into an area that had previously been universally regarded as a fine example of well-regulated public provision.
But, said Professor Freedperson, such “a conspiratorial view” should be rigorously opposed. In his view, nobody who surveyed the present gargantuan student loan cock-up could possibly maintain that it displayed any evidence whatsoever of anything that even remotely resembled actual planning.
Dear, oh Dear
In the wake of the disturbing news that Miriam David, emeritus professor at the Institute of Education, was addressed as “Miss” in a “begging letter” from Queen Mary University of London – an institution with which she had been professionally associated for at least four decades – comes news of a similar discourtesy perpetrated by our own Office of Development.
It seems that a distinguished former member of our social psychology staff, Professor D. K. Mundayne, recently received a letter from our Fundraising Officer that addressed him merely as “Dear Cash Cow”.
This comes on top of another Fundraising “error of judgement”: the controversial decision to sell the Lucian Freud-inspired nude painting of our vice-chancellor at home with his legs apart.
Mr Les Onions, our Head of Fundraising, blamed the errors on the “over-keenness” of the well-paid members of his team, who “constantly considered” every possible way of helping the university out of its present financial plight, apart, of course, from “the nuclear option” of immediately tendering their own resignations.
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
Following the recent article in Times Higher Education on the manner in which dogs can be valuable members of the university community, we will be holding a special session this Friday for all campus dog-owners. Please mark your application ‘University Dogging’.