Saturday, June 06, 2009

More Brown idiocy

Lucky us: the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) has been scrapped (report here) and replaced by a new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills under Lord Mandelson. Universities and other tertiary educational institutions do not merit their own department and, it seems, are now viewed by this government as a subsidiary arm of business. Hopeless. The goals of the new department, we are told, are as follows:
  • Advocate the needs of business across government, especially of UK small businesses;
  • Promote an enterprise environment that is good for business and good for consumers;
  • Design tailored policies for sectors of the UK economy that represent key future strengths and where government policy can add to the dynamics of the market;
  • Assess the changing skills needs of the UK economy, especially the intermediate and high skills vital in a global economy and design policies to meets them through public and privately funded life long training;
  • Invest in the development of a higher education system committed to widening participation, equipping people with the skills and knowledge to compete in a global economy and securing and enhancing Britain's existing world class research base;
  • Continue to invest in the UK's world class science base and develop strategies for commercialising more of that science;
  • Continue to invest in skills through the Further Education system to help people through the downturn and to prepare Britain for the future;
  • Deliver on the government's ambitious objectives to expand the number of apprenticeships;
  • Encourage innovation in the UK;
  • Defend a sound regulatory environment that encourages enterprise and skills;
  • Collaborate with the RDAs in building economic growth in the English regions;
  • Work with the EU in shaping European regulation and European policies that affect the openness of the single market and the competitiveness of
  • European and British companies;
  • Continue to work to expand UK exports and encourage inward investment to the UK.
So that's what universities are meant to be for... Any sign there of a commitment to the very best research and learning, scholarship and education in, say, the arts and humanities? No. I am instead apparently tasked with generating business leaders and entrepreneurs. The crass instrumentalist attitude this government has to education (it's not new: remember this?) knows no bounds.

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