RECENTLY THE EDUCATION Secretary, Mr Charles Clarke, attracted public attention for possibly the first time when he pronounced in an address at University College Worcester: 'I don't mind there being some medevalists around for ornamental purposes, but there is no reason for the state to pay for them.' He went on to declare that the state should fund only subjects of 'clear usefulness'.
This is a far cry from Michael Oakeshott's concept of a university as an institution for the permanent acquisition of understanding, as opposed to the temporary accumulation of information. And if ever there was a field of study that possesses 'clear usefulness', it is surely history. Superficially it might appear