Oxford University in the UK has announced a radical rethinking of its relationship to the state, with its president saying the university should “act as a sort of watchdog of the government”.
Oxford University president Prof David Nutt said he is committed to the “pervasive, harmful” abuse of power by the Conservative government and the university needs to be more proactive.
“The idea is to be a watchdog and to hold the government to account and to use our power to act in the best interests of the university,” Prof Nutt told the BBC.
“It is the best of all worlds.”
Oxford said it was working to overhaul its relationship and was looking at ways to make it more responsive to public concerns and to help ensure “that our academic freedom and the fundamental independence of our research are not jeopardised”.
“Our mission is to provide a world-class education to our students,” the university said in a statement.
“This includes ensuring our universities are well-resourced, staffed and equipped for the challenges of a global economy, with the best staff and expertise available.”
The statement comes as the UK government prepares to announce its Brexit negotiations strategy, with Oxbridge set to play a central role in the process.
Oxford, which is the UK’s second-largest public university, is the flagship institution of Oxford University and is home to about 7,000 academics.
Its mission statement said the university “has a longstanding commitment to its core mission of the study of human nature, society and society’s place in the world”.
It said the goal of the new initiative is to “be a watchdog of government policy and policy-making in all areas, and to act as a kind of watchdog” and “to hold the UK Government to account in the pursuit of its own interests.”
Oxbridge has faced criticism for its handling of the 2016 coronavirus pandemic.
The university said it had received the highest level of medical care for a major coronaviruses coronaviral disease in the EU and it had also performed “exceptionally well” in the fight against the pandemic and the subsequent UK government’s Brexit plans.
In a recent speech to students, the university’s president said the country was facing a “crisis of power” and that the UK “must act as an important partner in tackling climate change and to address the impact of climate change on people’s lives”.
“The UK has the largest public health and research system in the European Union,” Prof Phil Pritchard said.
“We must take the lead in our research and policy making to make sure that the best and most effective means of responding to the pandemics we face are available to all, including those at risk.”
Oxbridges role to monitor government and institutionsOxford’s role to the UK in tackling pandemias has been under threat since the Brexit vote.
It has been criticised by some experts, academics and campaigners for failing to properly prepare for and respond to the outbreak.
In October 2017, Oxford University said the coronaviroidae virus had reached its peak in the British Isles, but was “far from dead”.
In December 2017, it was revealed that Oxford had been under pressure to increase the number of scientists who worked in collaboration with the World Health Organisation in the run-up to the coronave epidemic.
Oxbridgs new partnership with the BBC, the first time it has worked with the media since the pandemaker was declared dead, was described as “the first major move towards a new form of collaboration” between the two institutions.
The new partnership was described by Prof Pritchett as “a major breakthrough” and will give the university a “voice in the public debate” about how the UK should respond to pandemases.