The day after I wrote the previous post I picked up the latest edition of the London Review of Books (19th March 2015) to see that Marina Warner had written a lengthy article with the headline: Learning My Lesson Marina Warner on the disfiguring of Higher Education.
It is a damning indictment of a Byzantine system of ‘audit as weapon’ that is driven by a callous executive class who know little and care less about anything that the average ‘chalk-face’ lecturer with a vocation would call education. A system run by an executive elite that have abjectly embraced what Warner calls “the new managerialist philistinism” and whose average salary is in excess of £250,000 a year. As she notes “the major parties have had almost nothing to say” – unsurprisingly since the Coalition began with the Liberal Democrats shameful betrayal of their pre-election promise on fees – and it is only the Greens who “have the right ideas”. But at the end of the day her most significant insight is that the current politics with regard to education is not just a by-product of economic policy. It is ideological, and its aim is to wreak “the ideal of emancipation through learning” through a process of exclusion. Which takes me back to my original concerns.
I would strongly recommend anyone interested in both Higher Education and its relationship to a genuine democracy to read what Marina Warner has to say, not least because it helps chart the means by which the basis of that system is being undermined by an increasingly totalitarian version of capitalism.