One of the interesting things that struck me about the recent UK riots were the origin of those in Tottenham. Tottenham was where my University campus was. I say "was" because it is no longer there, as Middlesex University closed the campus in 2005.
At the same point as the riots were beginning a Middlesex Alumni magazine sat in my pile of mail I had to get round to. I knew it wasn't urgent, so I left the Alumni magazine for a while. The front cover boasted of a new campus in Mauritius. This goes along with a campus that was previously opened in Dubai.
Can anyone point out to me whereabouts Mauritius and Dubai are in Middlesex? No, I didn't think so. Furthermore it wasn't just Tottenham that was closed, Enfield and Bounds Green were also dumped without any ceremony.
Among the various columns I read and programmes I watch I see plenty of people who are proud of their university associations, including that of Purdue, the American university in Indiana that I follow in sports ("Cradle of Astronauts", don't you know?). Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees donated $2M to the university a few years ago and famed Astronaut Neil Armstrong still maintains ties to the university which he graduated from in 1955.
Am I proud of my university, one which abandons the local community and goes chasing foreign investment? No, I'm absolutely not. The more I read about the university and think about it the more I realise why my parents had concerns about me going there.
(But Adam Ant and Dermot O'Leary went there, so that's okay!)
So keep presenting Trent Park as the image of the university, while still milking students to buy more books, incur more costs in accomodation and offering precious little in terms of practical support, both for the present and their future. The numbers that really matter are pounds and pence, not the student body. Given the choice of Purdue or Middlesex I know which one I would prefer to say I graduated from, for I know which one I am prouder to be associated with.
However loosely that may be.