Appointment of Tony Young to Board of Higher Education Watchdog Draws Criticism

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The appointment of Toby Young to the board of a new higher education watchdog has drawn criticism.

The former right-wing journalist and free schools advocate will have a seat on the board of the Office for Students (OfS), which will aid in leading the drive of the Government to apply market forces to higher education.

New laws are set to come into force that will aim to regulate universities in the same way as water or gas utilities.

Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, said that the OfS would look to make sure that the “world class reputation” of the universities of the United Kingdom is maintained. However, the appointment of Young has been met with criticism.

Young has a long history of frank remarks. In a column for The Spectator, he complained about “ghastly inclusivity” of wheelchair ramps that are built in schools.

Young also described working-class grammar school boys who achieved places at Oxford as “small, vaguely deformed undergraduates” and “universally unattractive.”

Writing about class in his book called The Oxford Myth, Young narrated how the arrival of “stains” or how the working-class students were known, had changed the university.

Young stated: “It was as if all the meritocratic fantasies of every 1960s educationalist had come true and all Harold Wilson’s children had been let in at the gate.”

David Lammy, a Labour MP, took to social media to show his disappointment regarding the said appointment.

Lammy said in a tweet: “Is that Toby Young who said I was wrong to criticise Oxbridge for failing to improve access?

“The Toby Young who only got into Oxford University because his Dad rang the tutor up?

“Toby Young, who slated working-class students? I thought it was New Year’s Day not April Fool’s Day.”

Paul Mason, a Left-wing journalist, also criticised the move. He stated: “Toby Young despises working class kids who try to make good through education.

“That’s why the Tories have put him on a body responsible for regulating higher education.”

Young’s appointment was defended by the Department for Education (DfE). A Dfe spokesperson stated: “Toby Young’s diverse experience includes posts at Harvard and Cambridge as well as co-founding the successful West London free school.

“He will provide vital insight in ensuring universities are working for young people from all backgrounds.”