It stops short of comparing John Denham to Joseph Stalin, but new research suggests that the Universities Secretary presides over a Whitehall regime that has much in common with the old Soviet system. A paper suggests that the "new managerialism" of higher education shares many of the pitfalls and dysfunctions that blighted the Soviet state. The argument is made by Hugo Radice, visiting research fellow at the University of Leeds' School of Politics and International Studies, in a paper titled "Life after death? The Soviet system in British higher education".
In universities and in the Soviet Union, he writes, "however apparently rational, orderly and comprehensive the plan looked at the top of the hierarchy, in its implementation the different levels of the system often pulled in different directions, with the result that objectives could often be met only by mobilising 'off-plan' resources". He likens the Higher Education Funding Council for England to Gosplan, the Soviet committee responsible for economic planning, and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, which Mr Denham heads, to the Soviet state's political masters.
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