Rise of graduate class has reduced status of manual workers, influential figure warns in book that may offer philosophy for Tory reshaping of post-18 education

“Expanding higher education made sense for a few decades in the latter part of the 20th…and early 21st century, but that time is now past.” So runs one of the central arguments of David Goodhart’s recently published book, Head Hand HeartThe Struggle for Dignity and Status in the 21st Century.

The book contends that over recent decades in many Western nations, particularly the UK and US, higher education expansion has produced a “graduate cognitive class” (“head” workers) and diminished the status of manual and care workers (“hand” and “heart” workers). And “a democratic society that wants to avoid a powerful undercurrent of resentment must…provide meaning and respect for people who cannot – or do not want to – achieve in the examination room and professional career market”, it says.

Plenty have argued that too many people go to university. But the depth and nature of Mr Goodhart’s argument – contending that higher education expansion has sucked prestige from vocational education and life from the sort of deindustrialised towns that delivered victory for the Conservatives in last year’s UK general election – could provide the philosophical map for a Tory government already on manoeuvres in such territory.

Read more : John Morgan : Times Higher Education : 05 October 2020