13Interesting debate tying into the bigger question of what are universities for – is it just about finding a job, or is there something more important going on there?

A leading critic of government higher education policy has launched a stinging attack on the University of Oxford, accusing it of being disingenuous in its arguments in favour of the humanities.

Stefan Collini, professor of English literature and intellectual history at the University of Cambridge, attacked an Oxford report released in July showing that from 1960 to 1989, its humanities graduates had shifted from teaching to careers in finance, law and the media.

Such alumni had therefore “proven highly responsive to national economic needs”, argues Humanities Graduates and the British Economy: The Hidden Impact.

Professor Collini, speaking more generally about how the academy should put forward non-economic arguments in support of universities, quoted from the study and called it a “saddening illustration of how not to do it”, although he did not mention Oxford by name.

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