Tuesday, June 04, 2019
People used to talk about the ends of the university and how the academic establishment was failing its students. Today, more and more people are talking about the end of the university, the idea being that it is time to think about closing them rather than reforming them.
Last month at a conference in London, the distinguished British philosopher Sir Roger Scruton added his voice to this chorus when responding to a questioner who complained of the physical violence meted out to conservative students at Birkbeck University.
There were two possible responses to this situation, Sir Roger said. One was to start competing institutions, outside the academic establishment, that welcomed conservative voices.
The other possibility was “get rid of universities altogether.”
That response was met with enthusiastic applause.
Sir Roger went on to qualify his recommendation, noting that a modern society required institutions to pursue science and engineering. But the humanities, which at most colleges and universities have devolved into cesspools of identity politics and grievance studies, should be starved of funding and ultimately shut down.
It’s an idea that is getting more and more traction.
In a remarkable essay in Quillette titled “After Academia,” Allen Farrington summed up the growing consensus. “We need to stop wringing our hands over how to save academia and acknowledge that its disease is terminal.”