The following rant comes from John Marenbon, author of the pamphlet University Challenge: Freedom, Fees and Future Funding published last week by Politeia. He says: "All the good universities are elitist.
They are institutions for an intellectual elite... The Labour critics of academic elitism often confuse it with a social elitism, which they have every reason to abhor and to believe should have no place in universities... It is a confusion, but it is not one, unfortunately, for which Oxford and Cambridge can be entirely absolved of blame... When, at the end of the academic year, the colleges transform themselves for the May Balls into slightly tacky film-sets of Brideshead Revisited , complete with a large cast of white-tied extras, they justify the mildest socialist's suspicions about the university. If only the leaders of the ancient universities were more confident in asserting the intellectual values for which they should stand, they would see that to accept these descents into snobbery and charade is to welcome the coin-dealers into the temple."