Declaration of university independence – money not state
A recent article in the Times Higher Education section gives an interesting viewpoint comparing the establishment and (league table) success of US and UK / European universities at large:
..the US independent research universities are the best in the world; the anglophone legally independent but financially dependent universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and University College London come close; the state universities come after them; and the rest come nowhere. — The for-profits rarely do well in any category.
Following this they ask the question:
Why is autonomy an independent variable for university excellence?
And find that it all boils down to money matters:
Competition is another source of excellence: when students pay, independent universities compete to satisfy them where state universities need not.
i.e. at state universities you perhaps pay naught, but you also get naught. However competition is changing this, and the state unis also raise their standards in competition against the ‘Ivies’. Thus the ‘competition factor’ spills over to benefit everybody.
[H]igher education in the US is benchmarked by the Ivy League
..and much like the US example, in the UK we compare against the (legal) independents – Oxbridge, UCL and some others.
In its Education at a Glance 2012 report, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that England’s tuition fees had produced the world’s most “advanced” support for students – without damaging social justice. If we completed our liberalisation and made the creation of a UK Ivy League a national goal, we could dominate the global league tables as readily as we now garner Olympic medals.
Despite the OECD’s viewpoint, I dare say there is still a ways to go to create a truly socially just system of higher education including excellence for all.
PS the full article comprises also of a rather noteworthy history of the esteemed HE institutions