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« What goes around... | Main | Write in haste, repent at leisure »

Hefce misuses public funds

I read today with interest that Australian website The Conversation has started up a UK edition (see here), with funding provided by, among others, the higher education funding councils for England, Scotland and Wales.

We know the general theme of Conversation editorial - unadulterated left-wing activism - and the UK edition looks as though it's going to be just the same. For a start, look at the editorial team:

  • Stephen Khan, ex-Guardian, Independent, Observer and Sunday Herald.
  • Megan Clement, ex-Conversation Oz
  • Will de Freitas, ex-Guardian
  • Jo Adetunji, ex-Guardian
  • Jonathan Este ex-Independent (as well as The Australian - wayhay!)
  • Arshat Rathi, ex-Economist, The Hindu and Ars Technica

And if we look at the content it's the same story. The leads today are:

  • Cameron in crisis as Tories' glass jaw exposed again by huge Commons rebellion
  • For Cameron and Clegg the cost of compromise is high

Reasonable people will conclude that, once again, we are seeing the academic establishment misusing public funds to promote their own left-wing politics.

Even in the best of times this kind of thing would be hard to explain away. In times of hardship, it is impossible to summon up the words to describe it. I imagine many people voted Conservative believing that such abuses of public trust would be at least reined in. When you see it continuing unabated, the suggestion that the Tories are just the same as Labour is becomes very hard to contradict.

I asked Hefce for a comment and got a response as follows.

'The government has asked us to encourage a greater contribution to society from universities.  We are working with universities to do that and consider that 'unlocking universities' knowledge for use by the wider public' (one of the Conversation's aims) is a reasonable way of addressing that government request.  The government has also asked us to stimulate collaboration between universities and we are doing that in supporting those universities who are collaborating as founding partners of The Conversation.  Our support of £195k is to match fund the contribution of thirteen universities to The Conversation during the pilot period (although £45k of this sum comes from the funding bodies in Scotland and Wales).'

We note The Conversation say:

'The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public.

Access to independent, high quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to allow for better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversations'

Is it just me or did they just fail to deny that it's a left-wing campaigning outfit?

In related news, The Commentator notes the taxpayer's ongoing support of another left-wing campaigning machine, the British Academy.

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Reader Comments (16)

Ha Ha!

Well, it's only fair. You guys recently sent us the Guardian!!!!

May 16, 2013 at 3:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

At the risk of starting a conspiracy theory in academia I sense the start of an FOI "campaign" for the costs of this...

May 16, 2013 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

Amused by the piece at the Conversation entitled "How cold has it really been in the northern hemisphere?" which was a long the lines of not very much, just local pockets of cold and it will soon be warming up again. Bet if it was the other way around the article would be prophetising global melt down within months.

Still unseasonably cold around here, and that 'warm' spell in March they mentioned seemed to only last for a couple of days. It's now mid May and still feels like March.

May 16, 2013 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterEdwin Crockford

Having just completed a university course, I can't say I met any Conservative or conservative lecturers. Their attitudes were scornful of any Conservative policies and Conservatives were painted as unthinking, uncaring bast***s. I guess there may be a few right thinking incumbents, but I expect they keep quiet about it. It's social justice for all and every minority group regardless of the cost. I recall a lot of harking back to Thatcher and the miners which they don't seem to have moved on from, despite the fact that most of them were too young to have had much recall of the events at the time. Scargill trotted out as a hero, etc. etc.

I think I came to the conclusion that university is for the young as it all became a little tedious after a while and I tuned out the invective. The realities of life weren't there and I'm glad to be back in the real world.

May 16, 2013 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy

I half heard a BBC Radio 4 programme (The Media Show) on this cosy little stitch-up, yesterday afternoon.

Rather sheepishly, the (Left-liberal) presenter, Steve Hewlett, eventually got round to asking the atrocious Leftie who was being interviewed whether it had a 'liberal bias' and received a calculatedly obfuscatory reply, prefaced by the masterful delaying tactic of 'what do you mean by liberal?' or something like that.

This one needs watching and, if at all possible, nipping in the bud. We are being fleeced again.

May 16, 2013 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Badger

I would have expected a website called "The Conversation" to have allowed comments i.e. a conversation, but what do I know?

May 16, 2013 at 5:54 PM | Registered Commentermangochutney

The website says they welcome feedback. I suppose one could start with mango's question, where's the conversation?

May 16, 2013 at 6:15 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Uncle Badger these people are anything but liberal - look at the laughably named "comment is free". I have been onto Brendan O'Neill at Spiked to encourage him to reclaim the word for real liberals - freethinkers who believe in civil liberties, rather than bossy socialists abusing the word in an attempt to make themselves appear cuddly and nice.
Mango: the monologue?

May 16, 2013 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Uncle Badger

I half heard Steve Hewlett saying that the first article he had looked at was by a PhD student and asking if this was an example of the 'expert' commentators on the Conversation.

About 17 minutes in.

May 16, 2013 at 7:25 PM | Registered CommenterDreadnought

May 16, 2013 at 6:15 PM | Paul Matthews

And could then ask, where's the 'high quality'?

May 16, 2013 at 7:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Grumpy- you haven't met me then. :-)

There again, I am in a small minority.

May 16, 2013 at 8:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Arshat Rathi, [ ... ] Ars Technica

I just had to chuckle ...

May 16, 2013 at 10:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

You should have done an engineering degree, Grumpy.

May 16, 2013 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

Yep. Abuse of public trust sums it up.

May 17, 2013 at 7:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Don Keiller and DocBud - Should have done engineering or something else equally clever, but I am too stupid and of the airy, fairy subject type. Just went back to uni to round off something I meant to do 30 years ago; it was a bit self-indulgent and probably a complete waste of money.

May 17, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy

I'm an Australian scientist and former senior manager in large resource companies, including management of government relations. I've also written a number of responses in the Aust "The Conversation" which is populated by absolute dills. They have a common feature of a hand-out mentality, a sort of refined cargo cult, plus a tribe of supporters who write nothing much more than ad homs. The whole bloody thing is a waste of time, rather much a lame copy of our usual suspect left wing newspapers.

Academic? Far from it. It's gossip, with no examples of valuable insight that I've been able to detect yet despite a lot of reading. Save your money, GB, and pull out before you waste it paying for a few resident trolls.

May 17, 2013 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

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