Tuesday, August 24, 2010
David Willets Supports Social Engineering
In a move which will strike fear in the hearts of meritocrats like myself David Willets the minister in charge of universities seems to want to take us back to the social engineering of the Labour years when it comes to university places. He wants it to be made easier for poorer people to go to university. This would be done through providing quotas for poor people to universities, which the universities would have to go by. What is even worse about this is that it is Whitehall who would be in charge of quotas centralising further education further. This is despite the government's belief in the big society. The big society can only be achieved through decentralisation.
That will mean that they could achieve lower grades then middle class people, but if they are seen to have great potential then they will receive the place above them. This is a case of positive discrimination, where excellence goes out of the window in the name of socio-economic background and diversity. It is an example of governments once more trying to enforce equality when this is not a desirable outcome. I abhor this as I think that Universities should be unashamedly elitist choosing on the basis of excellence alone. I feel it is my duty to point out to the aptly nicknamed "two brains" David Willets that potential is not the same as actual achievement. This means that you can only actually judge on actual achievement.
The government would not need to push for poorer people to go to university or in general people going to university if they abandoned the ludicrous vision of trying to send as many people as possible to university. Universities are not meant to be for everyone and indeed a lot of people are not suited to university life and the government needs to remember this. There would be no need for a quota then as there simply would not be the number if we remembered what Universities are there for. That way people would not be forced to go to university from whatever background and those who came from a poor background but were academically strong could go to university as their would be the space to take them on. Universities could go back to being unashamedly elitist rather than social engineering labs and in the space of less people going to universities apprenticeships could come back in vogue. This would increase the manual skill base which in the grand rush to push everyone to go to university we are lacking. Additionally with the clear evidence that A-levels have been devalued and the quality of students going to university has decreased is it really wise to introduce a reform that could make this situation even more widespread?
In conclusion it is not the job of universities to address the inequalities we have in society or the advantages certain children have either through education or socio-economic background. Perhaps as Douglas Carswell suggests on his blog it is just another example of ministers not resisting the urge to tinker in business which has nothing to do with them and should be left out of the hands of government. David Willets needs to remember this before considering this ill thought out reform.