Thursday, September 7, 2017

Attacking HE and Elitism

Ok...so most of us will be aware that a certain someone has been tweeting a lot this summer about Higher Education in the UK.

I have mostly steered clear of engaging with him. Not because I wholesale disagree with him, but because of the manner with with he is attacking universities. If someone disagrees with him, the answer is to block rather than engage.

But his latest tweet made me angry:


This is an incredibly telling tweet as the quotations marks around universities clearly reveals a snobbery and elitism reserved to those who think that Oxbridge is the only worthwhile education (or maybe he would stretch to Russell Group universities). Clearly, in his mind. post-92s are not real universities.

Now, I'll put my hands up and say that I got my Master's from UCL and my doctorate from Oxford. However, coming from Ireland, I have to admit ignorance over the class barriers towards entry to elite universities in the UK. Once I started, however, it became all too apparent.

We all know amazing universities, pre- and post-1992, that have outstanding teaching and research. His denigration of modern universities, and exaltation of ancient ones, will only serve to deter more students from trying to get into Oxbridge while at the same time making those who love and thrive in their post-92 university feel bad about their institutions or even themselves. 

I did not do my undergraduate in the UK, but I have seen this binary play out in a graduate context. I have frequently heard from colleagues at post-92s (on excellent programmes with fully funded scholarships) who say they are dismissed at conferences in favour of the opinions of someone from an ancient university. 

Andrew Adonis fuels this further by legitimising the harmful belief that there are "real" universities (for which he really just means Oxbridge and other ancient universities) and "fake" universities, aka the rabble of Higher Education. 

What an elitist, pompous, snob he is! 

Whatever his agenda is, (and I am not saying that HE is without failings and room for improvement), he is at risk of seriously damaging future students' perceptions of universities in this country. 

I now await the inevitable Adonis block.

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