In Times Higher Education this week, David Willetts makes a compelling case for the destruction of what – in Kantian terms – I have described as the “legislative university”:
One-third of the chief executives of our top FTSE 100 companies have humanities degrees. I remember hearing the late Eric Hobsbawm reflect that there was no better preparation for running one of these companies than a degree in history.
The good news is that these disciplines are themselves getting much better at defining their tremendous public value. Helen Small’s book, The Value of the Humanities, is the latest to explore these different sorts of merit, from holding democracy to account to improving our understanding of what makes us happy. And of course, we understand that this value must be measured in wider human as well as purely economic terms.
Happily the most likely way to do that is to embrace his policy of higher educational expansionism. Die Widersprüche sind die Hoffnungen!