For most of the twentieth century, the purpose of universities was twofold: To enable suitably qualified persons to study in depth an academic subject in which they were interested, and to allow senior scholars the facilities to pursue research which would extend the boundaries of knowledge. Those, one might think, are sufficiently demanding and admirable aims. They are not good enough, however, for the politicians and business magnates who currently manage British universities, and are regarded as absurdly outdated and self-indulgent. What these people think universities are for is to increase our GNP and international competitiveness. All other considerations must give way to this.

Throughout the 1980s, universities had to cope with an expansion in student numbers combined with brutal cuts in government funding, but they somehow maintained the “top-down” model...

 
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