Readers react: 'that confirms it - Universities are the servants of business'

June 11, 2009

There were angry reactions when news emerged on the Times Higher Education website last week that the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills had been scrapped and replaced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Reader Derek Rowntree was one of the first to respond. "So that confirms it. Universities are to be regarded as the servants of business. Guess we had it coming," he wrote.

"Ian" was even more cutting: "So now we are to be run by a department in whose name we are not even mentioned, led by a minister who was not elected. That DIUS has been abolished after two years speaks volumes about the competence of (former Universities Secretary) John Denham."

"RainDryer" said: "I'm afraid that - once again - higher education has been an afterthought in government restructuring. It's shocking that the sector is not associated with education in any major sense.

"We'll just have to hope that the new minister responsible has the necessary experience and interest in higher and further education to have some influence on Lord Mandelson. Depressing times indeed."

"Who outside a tiny government circle believes that economic ends represent education's only real driver and justification?" asked another reader. "Yet we must all conform to this numbskull 'vision', powerless, it seems, to counteract the increasing obsession with which it's being implemented.

"Gordon Brown had his chance today to row in an opposite direction; instead he has shown us what he's really made of. He'll pay a heavy price."

Walter Cairns, law tutor at Manchester Metropolitan University, described the move as "a wholesale subjection of higher education to the demands of business".

Roger Brown, professor of higher education policy at Liverpool Hope University, said: "This is not good news for all those who feel that policy on higher education is already driven too much by the presumed needs of business and the economy."

One reader, "Dave", was more blunt: "Feck 'em, they'll be out on their ears by this time next year."

News of the Cabinet reshuffle unfolded live on Times Higher Education's Twitter feed. Follow it at www.twitter.com/timeshighered.

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