One implication of what’s happening to British universities is that the thrust of the Browne Report (and of government policy) is to marginalise the Arts and Humanities. This is, IMHO, not only stupid and myopic, but also dangerous, because one of the functions of the humanities (as Martha Nussbaum has pointed out) is to enhance our capacity to empathise with others. It’s also such a contrast with what happened after the end of the Second World War, especially in the US under the GI Bill, as veterans went to university and studied whatever they fancied.
And then I remembered Auden’s poem “Under which lyre”… (which he subtitled “A reactionary tract for the times”)
Encamped upon the college plain
Raw veterans already train
As freshman forces;
Instructors with sarcastic tongue
Shepherd the battle-weary young
Through basic courses.
Among bewildering appliances
For mastering the arts and sciences
They stroll or run,
And nerves that steeled themselves to slaughter
Are shot to pieces by the shorter
Poems of Donne.