EVEN though universities are fundamental to education, and development of all those under-graduates who will subsequently enjoy long careers that contribute much to the success of this country, they should not be immune from reform.
There is a sense that too many students are undertaking degree courses for the sake of it – and that their career options are not enhanced when they graduate with an inordinate amount of debt and little else to show for three years, or longer, of study.
As such, today’s report by Parliament’s Education Committee should be the precursor to a national debate about the purpose of universities in post-Brexit Britain – and their funding – so their work, research and significant contribution to local economies can become even more effective.
Headed by Robert Halfon MP who is one of this country’s foremost champions of social mobility, it says that excessive salaries of vice-chancellors have become the norm rather than the exception and that a greater range of degree apprenticeships is a way of opening up academia to disadvantaged students.
He is right. There needs to be a far closer correlation between all stages of education, and business, if today’s students are to become tomorrow’s world leaders – and it can’t be right when Mr Halfon’s committee concludes that “too many institutions are neither meeting our skills needs or providing the means for the disadvantaged to climb the ladder of opportunity”.
Like the rest of the country, universities also needs to move with the times as the country adapts to new political, economic and social realities.