Universities under attack: a warning by former president of the British Academy

Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford and former President of the British Academy, Sir Keith Thomas and Professor Michael Wood who teaches English at Princeton spoke at the Universities Under Attack a conference sposored by the London Review on November 26, 2011 at King’s College London. In his talk Keith Thomas pointed out that ‘confronted by the philistinism on the scale of the Browne report and the goverment’s White Paper’ we can look to neither the present government, committed as it is to the university system as a market, not the labour in power or in opposition, nor Hefce, or the research councils, or the law courts, the vice-chancelors, or even the academic profession as a whole to come up with a solution.

Thomas then goes on to suggest some alternative ways forward on tuition fees and the Resarch Excellence Framework (REF) formerly the RAE, and called on the universities to collecively and publicy repudiate the ‘repugnant phiosophy underlying the Browne report and the White Paper by reaffirming what they stand for the correct reletinhip tp students on ghe one hand and the governmemt on the other.’

Wood gave the view from the other side of the pond that those who think that the ‘supposedly unpractical side of higher education (such as, say, the teaching of Sanscrit) are a luxury for which the state has no responsibility are right in a quite wretched way. They won’t have to pay for them. But their children will, and so will ours – and not with money.’

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