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If it isn’t bad enough that the government believes it can stagger on, Britain’s universities are to be made part of the answer to the economic mess. The portfolio of Peter Mandelson, First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Lord President of the Council – who does he think he is, Thomas Strafford? – will include higher education. Teaching and research are to be considered ‘economic sectors’, and according to Gordon Brown this reorganisation will lead to a ‘single department committed to building Britain’s future economic strengths’. Everything under New Labour, it seems, must have an economic function. (Which is quite ironic, when you think about it.) Perhaps it’s Brown’s vision for future students and graduates that they will be so engaged in the exacting work of building Britain’s economic strengths they won’t have time for politics. Some future, some economic strength.

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