I care about education. I care about the people involved – students, teachers and administrators – and their thinking, curiosity and commitment. I care that places of learning might exist so that human beings can test and challenge the way we see and experience the world; so that we might not make any assumptions about phenomena or evidence or opinions. I also care – indeed it makes me angry – that higher education is being denatured and dismantled:
Nowadays, it would seem that we are witnessing the strange death of the liberal university. Various commentators have noted how British universities, though still not-for-profit charities, are being hastily fashioned after private companies and the consequent narrowing of higher education’s raison d’être. The idea of the University as a place of civic education and critical enquiry has been put to a premature death by a raft of neo-capitalist political rationalities that promote inter alia divisive competition, false economies and philistine instrumentality. Academics are bound by ever multiplying forms of spurious measurement, misleading quantification and performance management. Students, in turn, are treated more like consumers than they are citizens, increasingly defrauded with a candyfloss world of university branding and marketing gimmickry. Grant capture, consultancy, citations, impact, quality assurance, unique selling points, student surveys and league tables, have become the new deities that all shall worship.