Oxbridge Redivivus.

  • Ainley P
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How the dominance of the two medieval universities, namely, (1) The University of Oxford; and (2) The University of Cambridge, was gained and maintained is the subject of the institutional histories by Gillian Evans. She has long been a thorn in the side of successive Cambridge Vice-Chancellors' aspirations to turn that institution--at which she holds a doctorate as well as one from Oxford--into a business park. She is dedicated therefore to "preserving the medieval democracy which has served it for more than eight centuries." Evans begins her history of "Modern Oxford" by saying that it was "shaped by the generation born as Victorians who broke off their studies to go and fight in the First World War, survived the carnage and lived on through another World War to become the generation of aged dons..." typified by the Inklings. Cambridge was well positioned to cater for the alliance of industrial capital and middle-class professions (including the academic profession) that it helped to form against a surviving landed aristocracy pursuing more character-building preparation for leadership at Oxford. The eventual merging of industrial with landed capital in the English ruling class is thus also preserved vestigially in modern Oxbridge. The author concluded that a generation of students and young people are today resisting the theft of their previously promised future and the attempt to return to a divisive education system like that of 1944 (though without the ideology of IQ, which then shored up tripartite secondary selection). They have yet to generate a coherent critique of existing education, partly because that is what they are seeking to preserve. As they develop such a critique, Gillian Evans's histories will prove useful in understanding how they got to where they are, even if they do not make explicit all the inferences drawn from them in this review.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Foreign Countries
  • Higher Educat
  • Medieval History

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  • Patrick Ainley

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