Monday, December 03, 2012

Bankrupt State University

Mike Adams

Many of my friends and readers are disheartened by recent cultural and political trends. Many blame our universities and wonder whether we can ever restore sanity in our nation, given that the enemy seems to control the modern university. They see no chance to win in the war of ideas as long as they are forced to support the public university and, therefore, forced to fund a war against their own cherished values.

But I know something they don't know. The public university that has declined so steadily in recent years will cease to exist in just a few short decades. The moral bankruptcy we have seen over the last twenty years is about to be followed by another sort of bankruptcy. Before long, many of the universities that have betrayed taxpayers and alumni will be forced out of business. It will happen for the following reasons:

1. Federal funding reductions. LBJ got us deeply entrenched in the business of federal funding for institutions of higher education. When he did, tuition began to skyrocket. More recently, the federal government has gotten us deeply entrenched in the business of individual student loans. This has had the same effect. When a lot of people are able to borrow a lot of money to purchase goods or services, the effect on the price of those goods and services is dramatic. Supply and demand is not a rule; it is a law.

State university administrators seized upon the increased demand for higher education by raising tuition. This was done for three reasons: a) because they could, b) because they wanted to give themselves raises, and c) because they wanted to hire associate and assistant administrators to do their work for them.

Now, the federal deficit is spinning out of control. As a result, the federal government will soon have to cut aid to state universities. This will confront administrators with this important decision: will they a) cut administrative spending, or b) raise tuition? The answer will be "b."

2. Student loan bubble. People are easily enticed into taking the bait when offered unlimited funds to pursue education. This applies to those who are not qualified to attend college at all. (Think about the housing bubble for just a moment). As tuition continues to rise, many more students who enroll will figure out that they have been duped long before they graduate. The universities have lied to them during recruitment. Departments in the social sciences and other disciplines have betrayed them by exaggerating the pay scale and availability of jobs they could likely expect upon graduation. These realizations will result in a massive upswing in the dropout rate over the next few years. These dropouts are many times more likely to default on their college loans than students who graduate.

When the whole college loan industry collapses, people will actually have to pay for school as they go. That will result in many empty seats in many college classrooms. Universities will have to make up the difference by turning to alumni donors.

3. Declining donations. Consider the following scenario: just two weeks ago, a fraternity of 80 men was ejected from a public university campus. They were investigated for hazing but then exonerated. They were also investigated for an alcohol violation that was so minor that police declined to arrest anyone. They were found to be guilty of only one offense, which was dubbed "failure to cooperate with the investigation." This was another way of saying the university thought but could not prove they were guilty because they refused to confess. At the end of the day, the 80-man fraternity was banned from campus for three years.

This real life incident will have two real life repercussions: a) the administrator who led the investigation will be promoted for expelling a politically incorrect fraternity (one of their flags has a Confederate symbol embedded within it). b) 80 future alumni will respond to the administrative overreach by refusing to donate for the rest of their adult lives.

This issue is serious. As the university administration has grown, it has assumed more control over the lives of students. In recent years, students have been prosecuted with increasing frequency for increasingly petty offenses with drastically decreasing respect for their due process rights. This includes petty prosecutions for speech code violations that amount to stripping students of the right to participate in the free exchange of ideas - the very reason many came to college in the first place. Is anyone foolish enough to believe this will have no effect on their willingness to donate?

The army of administrators that grew in the 1990s as a result of generous federal funding and the explosion in student loans will soon have to beg in order to retain their positions. Alumni will wisely apply the norm of reciprocity by exercising their power over these overpaid and underworked administrators who once practiced authoritarianism on them. They will wisely withhold donations and instead focus on paying their entirely-too-high student loan payments.

For all of these reasons, the public universities will eventually go bankrupt. And that is good news for a nation that is going morally bankrupt in the shadow of the ivory tower. They had a good thing going but the party is close to being over. The hangover will soon begin.


I was bullied out of Oxford for being a Tory

Petronella Wyatt

It is not just today’s university students who are attacked for their views

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t dream of winning a place at Oxford University. Both my father and my elder brother had been at what I imagined was the world’s greatest seat of learning, a modern-day wine-blushed Greek symposium encouraging the dual pillars of civilisation, free thinking and tolerance.

Yet, within two weeks of taking up my place at Worcester College in the late Eighties to read history, I’d packed my bags, precipitating the first scandal of my life. My father broke down and cried. Friends were baffled. The Evening Standard diary claimed I’d quit because I objected to fellow undergraduates having sex in the room next to mine. The writer A N Wilson announced waggishly that I’d departed because I was forced to drink out of chipped mugs.

The truth was less droll. I ran away. Yes, ran, because I had been subject to systematic bullying and intimidation. Not on account of my rather outré name, or the fact that I came from a private school. I was persecuted for one reason only, and in this cradle of supposed enlightenment it was both bigoted and barbaric: my father, the late Woodrow Wyatt, was a high-profile adviser to Margaret Thatcher and I was a Conservative supporter.

Why bring this up now, you might ask. Well, recent reports suggest that a new generation of Right-of-centre students are suffering a similar persecution. Such is the institutionalised and increasing hatred of Tory students at Oxford that last week a group of them demanded the same equal-rights protection as gays, disabled people and ethnic minorities.

Conservative members of Corpus Christi College’s junior common room (JCR) claim they are “often actively isolated, personally attacked and made to feel unwelcome” because of their political views. They want to create a post on the college’s equal opportunities committee to ensure that their opinions can be aired freely.

Their situation wasn’t helped by a recent BBC Two documentary, Wonderland: Young, Bright and on the Right, about student politics, which portrayed Tories as oddballs and neo-Nazis. It featured graduate Joe Cooke, former president of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA), travelling in a Rolls-Royce, sporting a silver suit and silver-topped cane.

At other universities, Conservative students say they are being treated as “scapegoats” for the introduction of higher tuition fees. Luke Black, 20, vice-president of Nottingham University Conservative Association, told a Sunday newspaper that “there is a growing Left-wing bias at universities. People assume we are like the Bullingdon Club without meeting us.”

Samuel Roberts, 21, a history student at Corpus Christi, who proposed the motion for greater protection, says such a climate is “uncomfortable”, while Stephanie Cherill, 19, president elect of OUCA, says there has been a deterioration in the attitude of JCR members towards people who are Right of centre. “This poses a threat to the atmosphere of intellectual discussion, as well as to the welfare of members,” she says.

I was in a minority of one during my first few weeks at Oxford. I had gone up in September 1986, a cripplingly shy 18-year-old. Hatred of the Conservative Party was at its most febrile. The year before, the university had voted to refuse Margaret Thatcher – a former student – an honorary degree, because of cuts in higher education funding. The atmosphere would have made a Stalinist shudder with apprehension.

During the first few days of freshers’ week, when new students socialise with each other and the dons, I had a taste of the wormwood that was to come. I was to find that the dons not only connived in the taunting of Tory undergraduates but took part with relish.

The politics of the miners’ strike, privatisation and the government’s opposition to sanctions against apartheid South Africa were brought into the wood-panelled rooms of the tutorial. My first one involved translating 18th-century French texts into English, and I was unprepared for what followed.

“Miss Wyatt,” said the don, Harry Pitt (now deceased), “please translate the first paragraph.” I stumbled over it. A small man with a face like cake batter, Pitt was big on bile.

“Do Thatcherites refuse to learn French or are they just stupid?” he demanded. The other undergraduates giggled. Tears pricked the back of my eyes. “I suggest you take some basic French lessons in your spare time – that is, if you’re not too busy socialising,” Pitt snarled.

I walked back to my rooms a disconsolate figure. At dinner in college that evening I sat by myself; then I felt a light tap on my shoulder. It was a second-year English student named James who introduced himself as a member of the OUCA. “I know who you are,” he said kindly. “I’m afraid it’s like that. Anyone suspected of being a Tory is picked on. It’s bad enough for me, but they know your father is close to Margaret Thatcher, so it will be worse for you. Most Tory freshers pretend they’re Labour.”

Later, at a local pub, I cravenly attempted to dissimulate. I insisted that I didn’t agree with everything Mrs Thatcher said. This ploy proved unsuccessful. A first year PPE student, who, ironically, had been to Eton, said: “You’re the daughter of a fascist pig. You’re contaminated.” Other students took up the refrain. I was perverted, dirty. “How do Tories have sex?” one asked. “They beat each other, don’t they?”

I felt the way homosexuals must have felt before the liberal legislation of the Sixties. Would I ever be able to lead a normal life at Oxford? Would I be forced to meet like-minded people only after dark? Would I have to turn to Labour and suppress my natural inclinations? The three years before me stretched out as a purgatory of ostracism and isolation.

The only openly Tory don was Norman Stone, Professor of Modern History, who was based at my college. He was hated for being not only a Conservative but a foreign policy adviser to Thatcher and one of her speech writers. He was hardly ever there. He loathed the place as provincial and petty, and for its adherence to the Marxist-determinist view of history. (In 1997 he took up a professorship at the University of Bilkent, in Ankara, Turkey.)

“You won’t be happy here,” he told me. “I get out as much as possible to escape these -----.”

I began commuting from Oxford to my parents’ house in London, finding refuge with my more open-minded metropolitan friends and family. I told my father I hated Oxford and why. He was incredulous. During his time there in the Forties, all political views had been accepted. “But it’s the best place in the world,” he said pathetically. “They wouldn’t do that, not among my dreaming spires. Even my Communist friends always had impeccable manners.” His rheumy eyes began to cloud. “Give it a chance. I’m sure it’s all just a tease. It would break my heart if you left.”

Exhausted by my frequent trips to London, my emotional resistance was deteriorating. A male friend of mine, also a Tory supporter, had succumbed to pressure and renounced his creed. During a tutorial the following week, when another history don had suggested, in complete seriousness, that I was an “enemy of the people”, I decided to do the same. Inwardly blushing with shame, I admitted to being “brainwashed by my parents” and called them “old fools”.

The respite was short. It was my father who drove the nail into the coffin of my Oxford career. At the time, he wrote two columns in the Murdoch press each week. Early one morning a group of undergraduates began banging on my door. I heard vicious shouts. My father had written a piece supporting Margaret Thatcher’s stance against South African sanctions. “Let’s lynch her dad. I bet he’d like to lynch coloured people. Does he call them niggers? Let’s lynch you. Like father like daughter.”

My door was locked. I cowered inside, and after five minutes, my pursuers gave up. When they left, I packed a suitcase and caught the first train to London. I never went back.

You may call me a snivelling wimp. But no 18-year-old should be subject to such intimidation and vitriol in an educational institution. Even more tragic is that it was Oxford, which not only produced 14 Tory prime ministers, but, to this day, hides behind an ill-deserved reputation for equality and freedom of thought.


Sir James Dyson warns over graduate engineer shortage

Britain’s top companies are failing to recruit enough skilled engineers because of a dire shortage of highly-trained graduates, Sir James Dyson has warned.  Sir James warned that his own company had “struggled to fill” 200 vacancies this year.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, the inventor and entrepreneur called on the Government to ease restrictions on the number of overseas students remaining in the country after their courses had ended, insisting bright foreigners were needed to “develop technology for export and relieve our skills shortage”.

The comments come just days after Boris Johnson claimed that current immigration policy risks driving the most talented international students to rival countries such as Australia and the United States.

Last week, the Telegraph also told how rising numbers of British students were now moving overseas after completing their degree courses.

It was revealed that almost 5,200 graduates sought employment in mainland Europe, the Far East and North America last year – up by a quarter since 2008 – with those from the best universities most likely to move abroad.

In a letter, Sir James said Britain would have a major deficit of engineers by 2017, adding: “Dyson has experienced this first hand, and struggled to fill the 200 extra engineering roles created this year.”

He said that Britain continued to recruit more bright foreign students than most other countries, but insisted more than eight-in-10 science and engineering postgraduates returned home after completing their research.

Sir James, who invented the bagless vacuum cleaner among other technological innovations, said: “It is now too difficult for the brightest graduates to stay in Britain.  “Rather than sending science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates packing, encourage them to stay.  “Britain needs their expertise to develop technology for export and relieve our skills shortage.”


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