Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Brave Mr Bryson

As the newly minted chancellor of Durham University, it was very brave from Bill Bryson to state that he had little sympathy for students who have to pay £3,000 a year for university education. He made his comments to the Financial Times yesterday (Tuesday 15th), who ran a feature of his first official tour of the university - he had been before, to award degrees for last year's graduates (including myself).

His rationale was that although we pay £9,000 for the total course at a superior university, he had to pay $100,000 (approx. £50,000) for his son's university education in an okay university in Ohio. Now, Durham was one of the university's that put up some of the strongest resistance to top-up fees, so for the new chancellor to say he's fine with us paying even more was potentially harmful to his status and affection in the minds of the students.

I completely agree with him and I'm very glad that someone finally actually said it. British students don't want to pay for their education - fine, I like things for free, too - but we then complain that things are never any good, don't work, or "American Universities do it so much better". From the state of the buildings (see St. Aidan's College and much of the accomodation for University/Castle College), to the treatment of certain departments that have been stupidly closed, despite holding perhaps the greatest global significance, we are woefully let down by the fact that noone's willing to pay for something.

(Yes, in case you are wondering, it was my own department, East Asian Studies, that was closed down, but that's immaterial - they kept open the Sport In The Community department, so I'm SURE everything will work out for the best).

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