when education becomes a business

Cashing in on Degrees — Dispatches

Broadcast on Channel 4 at 8:00pm — 9:00pm on Monday 4th April

Produced and directed by Lesley Gardiner

Journalist Laurie Penny investigates the increasing commercialisation of higher education and asks what happens when universities scour the globe for students and funds. She reveals how, at a time when budgets are being slashed and there is a deepening funding crisis, the university gravy train continues with excessive salaries, expenses and second jobs for those at the top.

Click here for link to 4OD

The documentary briefly revisits the case of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who was awarded a PhD from the London School of Economics in 2008 for a thesis entitled, “The Role of Civil Society in the Democratization of Global Governance Institutions: From ‘Soft Power’ to Collective Decision-Making?”

The LSE subsequently received a donation of £1.5 million from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (of which Saif Gaddafi is the president) in June 2009. According to an article in the Independent on Sunday :

Leading figures at the London School of Economics (LSE) openly joked about getting a donation from Saif Gaddafi before he had even been examined for his PhD, claimed a senior source at the LSE last night.1

The Dispatches documentary mentions that George Soros had advised that the LSE accept the donation from Gaddafi. An article published in the Guardian on Saturday 5th March, which looks into the case in more detail, also establishes that:

As part of the fall-out, billionaire US financier George Soros last night apologised for having advised the LSE to take Libyan money. Soros studied at LSE as an undergraduate, and had advised the school that it was acceptable to receive the contribution from Gaddafi’s son, Saif, on the grounds that he appeared at the time to be a believer in open society and claimed to be working to move Libya in that direction. A spokesman for Soros said he had come to see that his advice was “a mistake in judgment, which he now greatly regrets”.2

1 “LSE insider claims Gaddafi donation was ‘openly joked about’” by Jonathan Owen, from Independent on Sunday, Sunday 13th March 2011

2 “Anthony Giddens’ trip to see Gaddafi vetted by Libyan intelligence chief: leaked documents also reveal that US firm Monitor Group organised meetings between Gaddafi and former LSE director”, by Rajeev Syal and Jeevan Vasagar, from the Guardian, Saturday 5th March 2001.

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