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Higher Education

Articles and links on higher education

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Articles from LM

Degrading education, Claire Fox, LM, November 1996
'It is not just that A-levels and degrees are becoming worthless paper qualifications. Something else has been lost. Rewarding everyone, removing a sharp sense of competition and differentiation, decreeing that nobody loses: all of this degrades what it is to achieve and lowers horizons. Young people are being sold short and their aspirations reduced.'

The dumbing down of higher education, Claire Fox, LM, October 1997
'The bluster about fees diverted attention from a far bigger problem with Dearing's proposals. The report endorses a new philosophy about what higher education is for and what students can expect from university. It heralds a further shift away from ideas of scholarship, free thought, and high-level cultural and scientific education and research, towards notions of utility, measurable economic worth, and training.'

Second-class students, Brendan O'Neill, LM, October 1997

'What is really being questioned in the debate about widening participation is the idea of externally-set standards or, as it used to be known, universal knowledge. Today's radical educationalists object to the notion that there is a universal standard of excellence to which all students, from whichever social class, should aspire.'

Misreading the problem of literacy, Joanna Williams, LM, September 1998
'When we move away from basic literacy to look at higher levels of reading ability, the picture is not so promising. The problem the National Year of Reading material merely hints at is that so few people have levels of literacy that enable them to do more than just the basics.'

The learn-little society, Jennie Bristow and Kirsten de la Haye, LM, October 1998
'Inevitably, if the primary focus of a university is simply on 'including' as many students as possible, the quality of education received and the intellectual contribution the students can make will be sidelined as an issue. Only the Oxbridge colleges can continue to justify their existence through the calibre of academics they employ and the bright, thinking graduates they produce; and even their confidence is being shaken by calls to put "inclusiveness" first.'

Intellectual poverty, Brendan O'Neill, LM, October 1998
'The implication that higher education should be made more accessible to the poor by being made easier looks like an updated version of the argument that the masses are too stupid for university. But many working class students aspire to university as a means of bettering themselves and making something of their lives. Bringing university life down to 'their level' is not only patronising; it defeats the purpose of higher education as a means of self-improvement.'

Levelling down, Susan Gregory, LM, February 1999
'The very word "level" I have always considered an educational anathema. It suggests that we can take a sample, at any time, of any age group in our society and "level" it. I don't believe this for one moment. I don't believe that this is how human beings are, by nature. We are all, it seems to me, a fever chart of peaks and sloughs. And if we try to measure ourselves in "levels" we are demanding a consistency of performance that is alien to our very nature.'

Why scrap grammar schools now?, Joanna Williams, LM, February 1999
'The campaign against grammar schools seems more about lowering the expectations we have of all children and the standards we expect from them.'

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