CLEAR OUT THE CONSTIPATED UNIVERSITY SYSTEM: Exclusive interview with 23 brains Minister for HE: Weeengland has bleak future

Jean Tully Education Correspondent for the New Times continues her exclusive series about the University of Weeengland: Today 23 brains Minister for HE, Milley Willey, warns Weeengland of bleak winter to come, and of need to relieve constipation.

‘Minister, welcome. The University of Weeengland has endured a summer of shame and of under recruitment. It is now embarking on an ambitious programme of reform. Many in the University blame you for the recruitment shambles. Surely your 23 brains could have devised a workable funding system for Universities. Or perhaps your brains are not communicating with each other?’

‘It is always a pleasure to visit Weeengland, Jean, despite threats from revolutionary anarchists. My 23 brains are working very well together, thank you. Obviously the wheels need oil every so often, but generally I am healthy. How good of you to ask! The financial changes to HE will benefit Universities and society immensely, hugely, importantly…. The taxpayer saves £2500 per student. The Universities gain more money per student. The student pays far more to study,and learns the value of the commodity they have purchased. This is progressive – it makes the individual responsible for his future. It allows him to buy into the system, to invest in his future, to live a disciplined life, to work and pay off his debt. Indebted students work harder and will boost UK economic activity. It is what I call impact… a virtuous circle…a massive relief from the constipation afflicting English Higher Education.’

Yes Minister. Your coalition has made that argument. Yet there is a contradiction. You  accuse the previous administration of allowing Britain to run up debts, both personal and social, which have bankrupt the country. Your solution is to transfer that debt on to the next generation…Are you not simply transferring debt from one stool to another?’

‘Jean, now you have my brains buzzing. Look, there are different types of debt, two to be precise: productive and  unproductive. Unproductive debt does no work. This is the debt of the uneducated, of the poor, of the flotsam. This is constipated debt, so constipated in fact that a colonoscopy is necessary.  Our welfare reforms will colonoscopise all those who steal taxes, your taxes, to keep their shit intact, if you will forgive the analogy. Retards, and by that I mean they hold it in, they are tardy. No more loans to slugs. No more welfare to exploiters. Student debt is productive – it is profitable for future investors. Students learn to be productive, to pay back what they take. Students are our greatest national asset and it is imperative to exploit them while we can. The juices of all students must flow out into society.’

‘Profitable to the investors…?’

‘Yes of course. We will not allow this debt to accumulate while government waits 25 years for a return on its investment in students. As a responsible lender we will  sell the debt on. We must not constipate our debt, we must feed it laxatives. There are banks out there who view this as a unique investment opportunity, banks which can put debt to work, with their fancy financial shenanigans – a good investor could make a fortune, and our regulation is as you know very lax.’

‘So you have no objection to English students paying more for Higher Education, on average, than in any other country in the world?’

‘Jean, if you are buying the best product on offer, you pay the highest fee. As the PM often reminds us HE is one of this country’s great assets…it must not be wasted by the constipators.’

‘Did you pay for your education?’

‘No Jean, nothing at all. And that was wrong, very wrong. I should have paid. Some of my brains feel guilty about that, but others remind me that the past must remain in the past. Like Hillsborough.’

‘Yet this year 62000 fewer students have accepted places at HE institutions. That saves you 1.5 billion pounds. It also means that a number of Universities are close to bankruptcy. Was that your intention? Are your 23 brains in fact working at all. Such a balls up  is very hard to plan. Any rational one brained human being would fire you immediately. Do you want to engender a crisis in HE? Why?’

‘Yes there are fewer students. That is not my fault. The fault lies with institutions like Weeengland. Frankly Jean, would you study here? Senior managers all over each other like a rash. An anarchist collective issuing threats to universal time, and endangering the life of VC Woodley. A trade union run by Trotskyite revolutionaries who threaten strikes over minor reforms like outsourcing cleaning, recruitment, libraries and security. Staff who think that impact means being a good academic. So no. I did not plan a balls up, as you politely put it. The figures for this institution are still be confirmed, but I understand that it will lose 700 students. In my view that is excellent! Students in a free market make rational choices. Weeengland may not survive the year…But Professor Woodley has led the way in restructuring, outsourcing, cheapening labour costs, excising redundant staff. His efforts to put Weeengland on a diet may well clear out the constipation. Time will tell. If  not there are other, stronger, resilient institutions out there.’

‘And you view private providers as more resilient? You have given private providers VAT relief, so that in your own words ‘they are not at a competitive disadvantage in the market.’ Do you really believe that Universities are businesses? That education should be subject to market forces? Should education not be a social good,something available equally to all?’

‘Jean.  VC Woodley warned me about you. You have such a quaint view of HE! Education benefits the individual. A graduate earns more. Why should a plumber pay taxes for a philosophy graduate? If someone makes that choice, he must bear the cost, not Bob the Builder. Our party is committed to liberating individuals from their social responsibilities. If every individual works hard, plays less, drinks less, and pays more everyone will benefit. Constipation will end. Bob, his mate the philosopher, and the plumber who did my loo last week will be liberated.’

‘Will Weengland be around one year from now?’

‘I have immense respect for this University: its origins as a technical college, its development into creative and applied practices, its long-term commitment to exploiting commercial opportunities with the arms industry. Let’s be frank though, let the more aggressive of my brains, number 21, speak clearly. Prof Woodley and his chums are upstarts. This is a relatively new university, but it acts as if it is Cambridge. I will protect Cambridge until the day I die (my alma mater by the way.) I will not protect an institution formed barely 20 years ago, still learning the ropes, but unmoored, struggling. This is a failing institution. It offers degrees I would not enrol my pet beagle onto. It has allowed radical elements to subvert its functioning. Prof Woodley and his team have restructured to cut costs. Excellent. However, I have worked closely with the Chief Executive of Capital Academicians. we had a long chat during the Wimbledon final. Fabulous box he paid for! As he noted Capital A can offer teaching and research at a better price than Weeengland. Woodley has pointed the way by privatising services, but what about teaching? That is the next challenge. Can lecturers compete with the very best private providers in terms of the cost of delivery. I suspect not. Look its like tennis. Andy Murray was not good enough. Does that mean he should get a bonus? Free taxpayers money? No. And Jean, all these allegations of sexual misconduct. Rather disgusting.  Nothing proven of course but in the private sector no one has time for sex on seminar room tables. If you do have time then you are not doing your job.  Weeengland might be the first English University we transfer wholesale into private hands.’

‘Will you still have a job when that happens, given the shambles in the University sector over which you have presided?’

‘There is no shambles. Universities house the most intelligent people in the land. My job is keep them on their toes, to make sure they have an impact. At present Universities are impacted, constipated. I will relieve that constipation, give Universities an enema, clear out their bowels. My brains sing in unison (not with UNISON!!!) in respecting the dadaist commitment to creative destruction. The past must be broken before the future can be built. Weeengland is, as VC  Woodley told staff last week, the cutting edge of that precipice. If it does not creatively destroy itself I will intervene to relieve the constipation.’

‘Minister thank you. I do hope we can talk again in a few months time.’

‘Perhaps Jean, perhaps. Right now I must run to the loo…’

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