What Are Universities For? By Stefan Collini

Timely lecture for the coalition of dunces

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This is a closely argued defence of the university as an institution devoted to learning for its own sake: not a centre for vocational training, not a business, not the kind of outfit that needs a mission statement, not, in fact, anything that current Government policy wants it to be.

Part One is an overview of the history of the university and puts the case, in principle, for the university as a public good. Part Two is a selection of polemical articles that Stefan Collini wrote on specific aspects of policy, and here the writing is more trenchant, and wittier; I enjoyed Collini's claim that he would "certainly give Socrates a job, though I can't say I'd look forward to trying to interview him".