SCOTLAND'S universities have ducked the rumpus about "top-up fees" currently raging on the front pages in England. Perhaps the Scottish Executive displayed a sort of brute sagacity in feeling that it could not attack this great middle-class subsidy.
Our universities inhabit a wide spectrum from the ancient and pretty St Andrews to the almost intangible cyber-versity in Inverness. Edinburgh is as august as any in Europe while it might be fair to refer to our most humble new universities as mere techs with Royal Charters to hide the nakedness of their ragged credentials.
Within each college there is also a wide spectrum. Many arts courses are so diffuse and inchoate that they are little more than a sort of low-level three or four gap-year experience. Others attending the same university do not experience the holiday camp life but work intimidatingly hard at applied science topics.
Civil Engineers and Medics seem almost over-trained. Others work devilishly hard and emerge with MBAs which equip them only to speak executive gobbledegook. So trying to say anything coherent about our universities is far from easy ... with this one exception: they must wake up from their trance. They seem to think they are agents of