Adam Creighton

Getting it wrong on higher education

Getting it wrong on higher education
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Dynamic New Labour always talks about the so-called "skills crisis"; the "need" for more funding for higher education. But we mustn’t forget that blunt spending increases for higher education may encourage an ever-larger proportion of the population to stagnate in courses that will neither teach them anything particularly useful nor improve their chances of finding employment. Worse, there may already be a tendency - even without government subsidy – for people to get too much education. I look at these concerns in a US context in a piece for the American Spectator. The issues, however, are universal.

Last week the Brown government made a classic false economy with higher education spending. It abolished the Commonwealth Scholarship scheme to save £10 million a year. This scheme has, for 49-years, brought bright students from Canada, Australia and New Zealand to study at the UK’s best universities (which are cash-strapped compared to their U.S. counterparts). It effectively doubled the pool of bright, English-speaking students from which Oxbridge and the University of London were able to draw. Top U.S. schools will now get these students instead. So, to save 10 million quid, British universities are having their talent pools halved.