As the government pushes to marketise universities, it seems everyone's opinion is valued—except those with actual expertiseby Charlotte Lydia Riley / January 2, 2018 / Leave a comment
At one minute past midnight on New Year’s Day, the Guardian published a story listing the final six members of the Office for Students (OfS), the government’s new regulator for English universities.
Academics across Britain—party poppers still in hand, glass of fizz not yet flat, still hoarse from singing “Auld Lang Syne”—were brought down from their holiday spirit with a bump as they read that members would include a former executive of HSBC, a managing director of Boots, and the journalist Toby Young.
One student, from the University of Surrey, is included on the board, but there is no National Union of Students representation—a baffling exclusion from a body that is supposed to have student interests at heart.
The appointment of Young, whose West London Free School has recently appointed its fourth head teacher in six years, was greeted with particular dismay by academics, not only because of his lack of experience in higher education or academic research but also because of his apparent penchant for being deliberately and dully offensive.
Academics responded to his appointment by sharing examples of Young’s past hits: his railing against ‘ghastly inclusivity’ in education (at the expense of students with disabilities and special educational needs); his suggestion that BME students are underrepresented at Oxford not because of institutional racism but because they don’t apply; his repeated, boring att…