What I’ve been reading – adoption discrimination, higher education fees, Nadine Dorries, and too much Kate

  • I was shocked this morning to hear a report on Radio 4 that there is something of an “adoption apartheid” in Britain (reported by thetimes). White children in care are three times more likely to be adopted than black children, and the waiting time for initial decisions about black children is up to six months longer than it is for white children. Delays and discrimination are apparent at every stage of the adoption system, the report says. One would think that as the little brown babies are all the rage nowadays in some circles, young black children would not be discriminated against in this country, but perhaps the little brown babies are only desirable (read: fashionable) if they’re born to mothers more than 1000 miles away. The Times is subscription only these days, of course, but I’m sure there will be several other reports about this story throughout the day.
  • How is this going to work? Nearly two-thirds of universities in England want to charge the highest fee available (£9,000) for all of their courses (BBC). Now, far be it from me to pass judgement (ahem!) but I can think of about four institutions in this country who would get away with charging nine grand a year, and the rest can sing for their supper. The government (in its infinite wisdom) initially stated that universities could charge £9,000 only in exceptional circumstances so I have no idea how two-thirds of England’s universities are going to argue that one. But there’s a larger and more important issue at stake here. If it wasn’t already blindingly obvious, higher education has, once again, become the preserve of the elite in England. There is lots of tokenistic chatter about continuing to widen participation and ensuring the less-well-off can still afford higher education, but at £9,000 a pop, we all know how ridiculous that is. The current social mobility rhetoric of David Willets et al is now bordering on offensive.

The modest group of protesters standing vigil outside the office of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service may not initially appear to embody the alarming infiltration of US anti-choice tacticians into the rather less noxious abortion debate on this side of the Atlantic. But the presence of 40 Days for Life, a Texas-based, church-funded anti-abortion campaign, in London’s Bedford Square over Lent is a reminder that, with a coalition led by the traditionally choice-sceptic Conservatives, peddling a localism agenda that favours the involvement of voluntary, charitable and religious organisations, the concomitant dangers for British women may be more real than they seem.

These campaigns are being helped along, of course, by the now notorious Conservative MP Nadine Dorries who appears to be prepared to say and do anything to get abortion restricted in this country. It’s a pity (for her) that a recent report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists refutes many of Dorries’ favourite lies which claim that abortion always negatively affects mental health. It might not be enough to get her to be quiet but it might be a start.

In other “news”, while looking down my Comment is Free RSS on google reader, I must have noted at least ten pieces about Kate Middelton. Enough already! I don’t care. Who does care?! Seriously!

4 responses to “What I’ve been reading – adoption discrimination, higher education fees, Nadine Dorries, and too much Kate

  1. Is there not an argument that says a university education should only be for the elite / hard working anyway?

    There was a time that in order to go to college you needed very good grades at school. To go to University you needed very good O Levels. If at any stage you didn’t make the grade, then you didn’t progress any further.

    The previous Governments desire to make it easy for anybody to get a degree has massively devalued the weight of a degree, flooded the job market with barely qualified graduates and created a very costly education model that someone ultimately has to pay for.

    As an employer, it really grates that education standards have slipped in such a manner.

    • The issue isn’t about grades. The situation is going to arise, 1000s of times over, that young people getting five As at A-Levels are not going to go to HE because they’re not going to be able to afford it. So, yes, university should be for the hard-working but elite (read: wealthy) and hard-working are not one and the same thing. Yes, there is an unfortunate correlation between social class and educational achievement but it’s not absolute. It’s not a god-given right to go to university, no, but it should certainly be open to everyone and it no longer is.

      (On that note, some of the people I teach here got here through the university’s widening-participation agenda. Normally, they wouldn’t have even considered university and they’re a joy to teach. Their motivation to achieve and desire to give everything their best efforts makes my job worth it. It’s the over-privileged 18-year-olds who are challenging.)

      For the record, I disagree as much as you do with the watering down of HE in terms of quality but in my experience that’s not really the fault of the punters – it’s the fault of the institution.

      • I really struggle with the university funding debate. On the one hand I think that by asking for £9,000 most institutions are on tae plums, but on the other I read about all these student friends of mine taking to the streets to campaign against cuts and I’m like… yes guys, that’s brilliant, but how else to support universities if we’re not going to pay for it? Scottish students don’t have to pay for university education at Scottish universities. As a socialist this sickens me. If you can afford to pay for it then yes, yes you should.

        And I say this, guys, as someone who has benefitted from a prestigious university’s widening-participation agenda. I started Glasgow University the year before they abolished Scottish tutition fees. Do you know how much my law degree cost me after means-testing? NINETY THREE QUID.

        So, means test. Bring in fees in such a way that they don’t scare off the little Lissies out there. But bring in fees. Use some of them in those widening access schemes like the sadly-defunct GOALS project that made such a difference to my life.

        Anyway, I came on here just to say dude, I unsubsribed from CiF and now only read stories my friends recommend forever ago 😉

        • Yup to means testing. Broad, sweeping requirements that apply to everyone is untenable and will result in a lot of potential students missing out (not to mention a lot of institutions closing).

          And £93 is the flipping business!

          I think I’m going to do the same re. CiF. There’s too much crap on it taking up my reading time. Mind you, I only look at the titles and see if I’m interested. I totally judge a book by its cover!

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