Friday, January 16, 2015

Can the golden triangle learn to share, just a little?

According to The Economist, Cambridge leaves Oxford trailing in its wake. The names refer to the cities rather than the universities. Over the past few years, Cambridge has attracted substantially more highly skilled people and jobs, and has built a lot more houses. It’s the shortage of housing in Oxford, and vested interests that resist building new houses, that are blamed for stifling Oxford’s growth.

I’ve lived in the North of England for long enough to find it repugnant that cities like Oxford and Cambridge should be encouraged to compete with each other to attract highly-skilled jobs. It’s not long ago that Astra Zeneca decided to move its research lab from Cheshire to Cambridge, at a time when there’s a valid concern that London (and the South-East) are sucking the economic life out of the rest of the nation. The article states: “Companies [in Oxford] complain that the exorbitant cost of housing is making it hard to hold onto workers.” The challenge is to translate this market force into action, and move some of these companies northwards.

(added 19.1.15:) See Cities Outlook 2015, newly released by the Centre for Cities, for more details on the importance of addressing the North-South divide, and how bad the problem has become.

(added 22.1.15:) Article with a strange message:
Universities minister Greg Clark has called on leading universities in the Midlands and North of England to do more to tackle a north-south divide in the number of school leavers entering leading universities.
Fine so far.
Analysis of government figures by the Sutton Trust for The Times has shown that all but one of 20 local authorities that send the most pupils to the most selective universities are from the London and the south east of England. The 20 sending the fewest school leavers to top universities are predominantly in the most deprived areas in the north and Midlands regions.
Well, since the selective unis are in London and the SE, to the extent that students are biased by locality, that disparity ought to exist.
Mr Clark said he wanted leading universities, particularly those in areas that send the least pupils into higher education, to work more closely with schools and be more creative in their efforts to raise aspirations among pupils. Citing Sheffield Hallam University as an example of an institution that is providing effective access support to schools and colleges in its region,...
This is the dodgy bit. It seems like Northern unis are supposed to facilitate the process of shipping the top students out to another part of the country. That is equal and opposite to what is needed to tackle the North-South divide.

No comments: