British Universities

Purpose and Prospects
by Sydney Caine
rrp $63.48

Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division

Series: Heritage

Publication Date: January 13, 2017

ISBN: 9781442654389

Binding: Kobo eBook

Availability: eBook

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Since the last war there have been enormous increases in the numbers of universities and of students. Yet it tends to be assumed that the concepts which were valid for the dozen or so universities and the tens of thousands of students of the 1900's are still valid for the fifty universities and the hundreds of thousands of students of today.

Sir Sydney Caine was Director of the London School of Economics from 1957-67. Before that he had been for four years Vice-Chancellor of the University of Malaya and had served for twenty-five years in the Civil Service – in the Colonial Office, in the Colonial Service as Financial Secretary of Hong Kong, and in the Treasury. He is thus equipped to give a balanced assessment of the state of British universities today when their almost complete financial dependence on the state makes the relationship between the universities and the Government one of the central topics in any such discussion.

The book examines a number of inter-related questions which are seldom asked. What are the objectives of a university? Is there a proper balance between teaching and research? Is it right that secondary school curricula should be to so great an extent determined by university entrance requirements? With the increase in their numbers are graduates any longer in any sense an élite? What are the underlying causes of the current malaise among students? What is the value of university education to the society which provides it, and should there be a special tax on graduates' earnings? What is the role of universities in relation to other forms of further education? How and to what extent should teachers – and students – participate in university government? Can alternative methods of financing universities be found which will give students a greater sense of responsibility and lead to the loosening of wasteful rigidities of organisation – in degree patterns, length of courses etc?

Much of the confusion of purpose ...