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United Kingdom: Why the LSE took money from Qaddafi

Since neither the government nor private citizens are willing to invest in our top schools, “our solution is to get foreigners to take care of us,” said Richard Sennett in The Guardian.

Richard SennettThe Guardian

Britons are outraged that the London School of Economics took loads of money from one of Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi’s sons, said Richard Sennett. But instead of wondering how such a prestigious British institution could stoop to accepting gifts from such a despicable foreigner, they should be asking why. The answer is simple: Because Britons themselves are too stingy to donate.

In the U.S., graduates routinely give money to their old schools, whether public or private, and the richest grads give massive sums. Why not here? “If you owned a stately home, you could sell that Titian in the hall and donate the proceeds—but you likely wouldn’t.” Britons consider it the government’s job to fund education. Yet ever since the Thatcher era, successive governments have “starved British universities of cash, opening up opportunities for dodgy donors.”

Since neither the government nor private citizens are willing to invest in our top schools, “our solution is to get foreigners to take care of us.” Wealthy students from abroad pay much more than domestic students for the same education, and universities are accepting more and more of them. If you don’t like that state of affairs, you’ll have to pay more taxes and urge the government to funnel the money to higher education. Because “no stately home owners are stepping up to the plate.”

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