Monday, June 17, 2013

What's in a Headline?

A couple of headlines in this morning's Guardian caught my eye:

"Universities 'Failing' on Equal Access": The headline suggests an egalitarian goal for universities that is dubious as a matter of policy. Should we really want everyone, regardless of intelligence and prior educational achievement, to have "equal access" to higher education? If so, the implications would be serious. It would be easy enough for universities to accept all comers who are willing to pay a certain price, but that price would have to be much, much higher than the current price because demand now is limited to students who meet certain criteria. If the quantity of demand increases, and the supply of places remains limited, the laws of supply and demand dictate that price will have to rise. In addition to higher price, students (especially brighter students) would bear a substantial cost to the quality of education (as well as their university's reputation for educational quality), if they were forced to admit and teach the dim and dumbest as well as the best and brightest.

"Never Trust Anyone Who Is Rude to a Waiter": This strikes me as a very wise aphorism, albeit one of limited applicability. I would carve out an exception, however, for waiters who are rude first.

I hasten to add that my comments are based on the headlines alone, and not on the articles that accompanied them.

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