Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Avarice Over Academia

One of the areas of civic life defiled by the Thatcher years was education. It was no longer seen as a thing of inherent value. Rather, it was to be seen through a Gradgrindian prism; at best, a means to an end.
New Labour carried on pretty much where the Tories left off, injecting more "market mechanisms" into the education system.
All of which has led to the move by Liverpool University to consider selling off its halls of residence in the city's south end ( ).
The university's Carnatic Halls in Mossley Hill & the Roscoe & Gladstone Halls in Wavertree are seen as assets to be cashed in. Marc Waddington's report quotes a university spokeswoman who lapses into a strange mix of estate agent speak & evasive euphemisms:
"Any sale would almost certainly wait for an upturn in the property market and would represent a major policy change for the university."
Waddington inserts a revealing aside into his piece when he says that the halls of residence have "traditionally eased first year students into Liverpool life in the more affluent south end" of the city.
The economic & class distinctions in the city of Liverpool, which don't always follow a north-south line, are rarely mentioned in the local media; as far as the Oldham Echo is normally concerned, it shouldn't affect your life chances if you're born in Kirkdale as opposed to, say, Aigburth. Such glib platitudes are, of course, bollocks.
Once the halls of residence are sold off, it may not end there. Waddington quotes a "senior source" who notes that there is a possibility of selling off "more recreation space down there [Mossley Hill & Wavertree] as well."
I don't normally approvingly quote city council leader Warren Bradley, but he correctly observes in the report that the bottom line is now at the top of the agenda for Liverpool University.

1 comment:

Guillaume said...

I stayed in Carnatic Halls for a few days. It was for a short period of time, before I got a room in a house, but I have a fond memory of the time spent there. They should not sell the halls. I am no economist, but it seems to be that the students will end up paying more and the university will lose a source of revenue. And, like you said, halls are a key element to the integration of new students. In the end, it is the whole academic world that will loose.