Higher Education and Opinion Making in Twentieth-Century England

By Harold Silver | Go to book overview

10

FINAL DECADES: 'PAINFUL TRANSFORMATION'

'OH YES WE WILL!'

Features of the voices for higher education up to the 1960s were vision and the confident anticipation of and planning for a bigger or better or different future. In the 1970s and 1980s the controlling hand of government placed both the institutions and the voices that spoke for them in postures of increasingly guarded analysis and defence. The confidence expressed by a Moberly or an Ashby that the limited but necessary boundaries of government expectation and involvement would not be overstepped diminished sharply as these were seen from higher education as requirement and intervention. After Robbins and the binary policy the next policy indication of the extent of the move from state oversight to state leverage of change was the 1972 White Paper. Demography and the economy largely dictated the numbers, organizational and financial planning, but reflected in the arithmetic were also political and social assumptions about the future of the system. These applied not only to assumptions about teacher education. The lion's share of the expansion of student numbers generally was to be borne by the polytechnics, and the government intended 'to arrest the tendency of unit costs to rise (at constant prices) from year to year' in the universities, thus slowing down the previous rate of expansion. Assumptions about the university student population were based on the government having taken into account the estimated numbers of qualified school leavers, though with minimal account of part-time students and no consideration of the possible entry of mature or other groups of potential students. 1 Niblett drew attention to the difficulties and lack of defined purposes for higher education in what he described as 'a jolting document for all institutions of higher education', containing 'abundant matter…to rouse us sharply from the peace into which we seemed to be drifting'. Though it offered opportunities, to take them was 'not going to be easy for anyone'. 2

-211-

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Higher Education and Opinion Making in Twentieth-Century England
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vi
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Abbreviations viii
  • Foreword xi
  • Part I - System Making 1
  • 1 - Preludes 3
  • 2 - Early Decades: 'Unequal and Inadequate' 13
  • 3 - 1940s: 'A New Crispness' 33
  • Part II - Values 55
  • 4 - 'truscot': 'the Universities' Speaking Conscience' 57
  • 5 - Postwar: 'A Ferment of Thought' 79
  • 6 - Moberly: 'the Status Quo and Its Defects' 100
  • 7 - 1950s: 'Modern Needs' 127
  • 8 - Ashby: 'the Age of Technology' 151
  • Part III - A National Purpose 175
  • 9 - 1960s: 'Expansionism' 177
  • 10 - Final Decades: 'Painful Transformation' 211
  • 11 - Pressures and Silences 252
  • Index 267
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