Universities’ Declaration of Independence? – again

Mortar board, from TCD site.A little while ago I mused that Irish universities seeking the freedom to set their own fees might decide to declare independence from government not just on fees but on all matters. But I thought then that it would never happen. However, the old adage “never say never” occurred to me this morning, reading the following story in THE [with added links]:

Privatise top 5 and let us form UK Ivy League says Imperial rector

The rector of Imperial College London wants the institution to go private and join four other Russell Group universities in an independent US-style Ivy League. Professor Sir Roy Anderson told the Evening Standard that privatisation would allow Imperial, the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the London School of Economics and University College London to fulfil their economic promise.

“If you take the top five universities, they have enormous potential to earn income for Britain. How best to do that? My own view would be to privatise them,” he told the paper. “The trouble is all British universities are too dependent on Government. You don’t want to be subject to the mores of government funding or changing educational structures.”

Privatisation would allow Imperial and the other four “elite” institutions to set their own unlimited tuition fees and take more overseas students, he said. …

More here, here and here.

So, what would be shorthand for the this elite top 5? “The Premiership” seems currently in vogue. Or what about “The Famous Five”? Should (some of?) the Irish universities go the same way? And if so, what should be the shorthand for them? “The Shamrock League”? Or perhaps auction the naming rights? More seriously, even though the proposal is cast in current jargon, there may be something to it. It is certainly an important suggestion; and Sir Roy is to be commended for beginning the debate, even if the proposal is at present an unpopular one.

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