It has long been a bugbear of mine that the UK Government, oddly led by Blair at the time, took some sharp steps towards privatising the University sector, but then took fright and left it as a bodge job.
Blair rightly brought in student fees. Students would now pay for their courses, albeit with cheap government loans and this would shine a light onto the excesses of the state sector. And lo, so it came to pass that degrees in Madonna Studies and Kite Flying from ex-polytechnics quickly fell out of favour now that some responsibility was imposed.
Equally though, remained the challenge of differing value for courses. Your author hear studied for a degree in history which required occasionally focus for an hour or two a couple of times a week; friends studying medicine or pharmacy worked very hard indeed - in expensive labs with expensive equipment. The move to fees mean all these courses still cost the same, despite the input costs from the university's being very different indeed. Overall, arts degrees subsidise STEM subjects massively.
Now, Theresa May has recognised this and has moved out of the jobs a couple of ministers (Greening and Jo Johnson) who were firmly captured by the sector and repeated the line of how ending this subsidy would be the end of university courses.
To me something way more fundamental has happened in the last 20 years. The internet has revolutionised learning like nothing before. Apps can teach you a language for free, any information can be gleaned from google for free. Research projects now are either laughably easy or arduous in the extreme if, in the latter case, you actually have to find out something new.
Moreover, the big shortage in the economy is in tech jobs, learning tech and programming is just not a university level of study - it is far more akin to A-levels in terms of depth and length. You can't just learn on programming language anyway.
So now is absolutely the right time to review what is being taught at Universities, how much it costs and what subsidies (as ever!) should be directed where. One point is key, people should not be burdened with costs for useless degrees to which they were guided as kids by their betters.