Recession beating idea: Shut a few universities

BBC report on a new think tank publication which proposes that weak universities ‘should shut’:

Struggling universities should be allowed to close or be taken over by the private sector, says a think thank.

Policy Exchange says that the government should accept the idea that universities could go out of business.closed-sign

Universities receive £8bn in public money, but they face no threat of closure if they fail, says the report. Anna Fazackerley, head of education at the think tank, says the culture of saving universities means they are “unable to learn lessons from failure”. The report, Sink or Swim? Facing up to failing universities, says that there has been a deeply-embedded assumption that universities will always be “shored up” regardless of their difficulties.

Seems to me that if an institution has been shut down there aren’t many more lessons which it can learn. And which part of our currently less than sparkling private sector is going to be best placed to take on such challenges? Especially under a PFI deal as the report suggests. This appears to me to be a simplistic and wrong-headed approach to a complex and challenging issue.

2 thoughts on “Recession beating idea: Shut a few universities

  1. Surely there are a number of institutions that should be allowed to fail – London Met springs to mind – their assets and resources should be allocated to stronger better managed Universities – Nottingham springs to mind as such a place.

    Why should the taxpayer continue to fund institutions that are just not up to the job and starve successful institutions or additional public funds.

    We already do this in publicly funded research why not in teaching funds, buildings etc.

    1. Re Mark Curry’s grand idea. No disrespect to my colleagues at Nottingham whom I hold in fond regard (you know who you are) but you’ve had plenty of time for WP. London Met has more BME students that the whole of the Russell Group put together. The issue of so called failing universities is complex and linked to wider issues of aspiration, education and social justice. WP isn’t just about getting a few kids from poorer state schools through the admissions process, it’s what happens next. I don’t pretend we’ve got it right, but shutting us down so that you guys can build a new clock tower isn’t the answer.

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