Last of the Westland Whigs

In the late 17th century, the 'Westland Whigs' were the radical descendants of earlier Covenanters who had defied the absolutist rule of Stuart kings in south west Scotland.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tell us the Truth, Sir Muir!

Elaine Murray appears to be getting close to the truth - here is her quote from today (Wednesday 31st Jan) Standard

I have been told that the issue of Glasgow University pulling out of Dumfries has arisen after Dumfries and Galloway College was given additional capital funding to enable it to provide facilities for higher education students at the universities on the campus.

The college indicated that it would be asking the universities to pay their share of running the facilities, and at that point Glasgow University said it it could not sanction increasing the shortfall

The facilities mentioned would include a canteen for students. But a 'canteen' is where factory workers eat - people like this group above. One of the workers is a young -1978- me.

Which is where the problem lies. Refectory is the 'Proper University' word Sir Muir would prefer. And the possibility that students and lecturers from his ancient, world heritage class university would be mixing indiscriminately with the 'students' and 'lecturers' (pupils and teachers as he no doubt sees them) from a primitive technical college... he must be having nightmares... what if they began to indulge in social intercourse? The horror, the horror...

Which is ridiculous. I have a TEC (Technician Education Council) Certificate in Mechnanical and Production Engineering from Waltham Forest Technical College (east end of London. I am very proud of it, and of the many years I spent working in a factory as trainee engineer.

I also have a degree - BA Hons Religious Studies with Social Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies in central London. This institution has a position somewhat higher on the UK and World Ranking of Universities than Glasgow's.

I have only just started at Glasgow University's Crichton Campus, but my current research on the Galloway Levellers has already been praised by eminent Scottish historians Professors Chris Whately, Tom Devine and Chris Smout.

But as this quote by Sir Muir from 2004 shows, any mention of 'levelling' makes him apprehensive. Clearly he is determined to maintain the physical boundaries between colleges and universities. Between common people who eat in canteens and those of the elite who dine in refectories.


University of Glasgow principal Sir Muir Russell openly expressed his concerns about the move. In an interview with Scotland on Sunday, published today, the former Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Executive said alarm bells were ringing within university courts.

"One of the apprehensions we had was the idea that there might be some kind of levelling down of support for the early years of university degrees," he said.
"That’s why we’ve always drawn attention to this one specific proposal which looked as if it might be designed to reduce funding support."

Other university sources say the funding plans would be catastrophic for Scotland’s historic universities - and would change entirely the experience of university for students. "You would be turning university courses into a sausage factory," said one.
Another insider added: "This would push us into the worst aspect of mass higher education. You’d get enormous cohorts of students and it would mean that students don’t get concentrated attention.


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