Prof Malcolm Gillies, VC of London Met, appeared on Radio 4’s Today yesterday morning and aggressively challenged the recent controversial actions of the UKBA. This appearance was also picked up in the Guardian and no doubt in other places as well. Leaving aside the particular details of this case, an obvious question occurs: why have other VCs not been making the case for UK higher education in the media over the last two years? Presumably Malcolm Gillies perceives the UKBA’s actions as an existential threat to London Met. But as as the Campaign for the Public University’s John Holmwood put it at the British Sociological Association conference earlier this year, people are going into their offices and going into classes every day as if it’s business as usual. But ‘business as usual’ is the complete undermining of higher education. The sector as a whole has been confronted with an existential threat and yet the VCs have been silent. It’s a complacency which is paralleled throughout UK higher education. But it’s much more problematic in their case both because of the failure of leadership it represents and the strikingly obvious fact that, as Gillies has demonstrated, VCs can get into the media to push a political case contrary to government policy if they are actually willing to try.
Categories: Higher Education