This morning there has been some frenzy on the UK media (eg here or here) after the publication of a pamphlet by David Willetts, a junior minister for University and Science under the infamous coalition government.
The minister’s point is that, comparatively to what used to be case in the past (notably in 1963 before changes in policy that led to increase in the number of university students), the proportion of time spent teaching by university lecturers is decreased in favour of the time that they spend otherwise.
Now, of course, this is not necessarily bad or good per se, but the minister says in his paper that “Looking back we will wonder how the higher education system was ever allowed to become so lopsided away from teaching.“
Well, one easy answer is of course to point out that apart from the huge increase in the number of students $-$ it would actually be interesting to have reasonable figures on the time spent teaching per-student, in comparison with pre-1963! $-$ the government(s) have switched the emphasis to research by decreasing the amount of funding available for universities and rewarding private initiative to obtain research money, eg from industry, or simply making the process of funding increasingly competitive!
Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but certainly not something to coolly swipe under the rug…