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The Comprehensive University

The Comprehensive University

Last semester as part of our guest speaker series Radical Thoughts for Radical Times we were delighted to welcome Tim Blackman, the current Vice-Chancellor of Middlesex University. Tim eloquently presented the case for desegregating Britain’s class divided universities. He further sets out the issues and proposals for change in Occasional Paper 17 for the Higher Education Policy Institute. He contrasts secondary education, where the majority of schools are non-selective with the higher education sector which is riddled with a hierarchy, status and selection barriers. He shows how the university sector has a dominant selective model which mirrors our class divided society. His well –researched paper concludes with specific proposals including open access and basic matriculation quotas for all higher education instititutions along with funding geared to ensure that all institutions have a fully balanced social class intake.

Tim’s talk and his paper raise a number of issues concerning education policy and society. Looking beyond a weakened yet still ideologically-driven government is important. The measures he proposes would face significant resistance as class privilege and entitlement continue to block the way forward. However, ideas that challenge the current class narrative are very much part the radical discourse and history of Ruskin College. A comprehensive university system goes with progressive ideas for a fundamental and radical transformation to a society that will serve the interests of the many and not the few.

Copies of The Comprehensive University: An Alternative to Social Stratification by Academic Selection by Tim Blackman can be obtained from


Written by Gerard Ward, Tutor in Law and Social Work at Ruskin College.

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