To those of us of a certain generation, Cristina Odone's piece in the Telegraph Notebook today will have raised a wry smile. Her comment that a middle class background may become a barrier, ceteris paribus, to University entry was intended to be a humorous dig against government imposed political correctness.
In fact, and certainly at Aberdeen - fairly middle of the road in most ways- a substantial proportion of the faculty were unashamed Communists even in the 1980s. Class background was the primary issue and the source of their entire weltenschaung.
Over the weekend, I attended a performance of Tom Stoppard's Play Rock and Roll . David Caldwell has taken over from Brian Cox the role of Max- the unrepentant Marxist academic, although both playwright and actor make the character sympathetic, my personal reaction was to remember those of my tutors who regarded anti-Marxists, like myself, as deluded trash. The relief I felt when I moved to study in Canada and did not have to even address the concept of Marxism, was great indeed.
In the context of academic freedom, there may be a place for the Marxist analysis, but Cristina's piece just reminds me why I want to see the role of the state in the Universities diluted substantially. Neither admissions policy nor most other facets of University life can be free for as long as the government pays the piper.
One of the best lines in the play was that it is not the government that is the source of the people's freedom, but the people themselves. We have says one of the characters "created a democracy of obedience". We are not permitted to know how much our hospitals cost for utterly spurious reasons of invented commercial confidentiality, we are stripped of our privacy- quite literally- by CCTV X-Rays. We permit criminality at the highest level of government.
At least we can role back the state from the Universities- can't we?