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Baker’s battles

University Technical Colleges are succeeding in spite of scepticism in the Department for Education and opposition from leading Conservatives.

British further and higher education have always lived in the shadow of elitism. But each generation of Conservative government has also included reformist politicians willing to challenge the internal party consensus.

A century ago it was Viscount Richard Burdon Haldane who fought the defenders of Oxbridge to establish a wave of civic universities such as Bristol and Leeds. In the early 1960s, it was Harold Macmillan’s government that commissioned the economist Lionel Robbins to think about further expansion of the university system.

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