I am absolutely appalled by the events of the last few days and the hastiness with which the rector of my alma mater, Imperial College, is trying to push through his own agenda.
I hope sincerely that the entire college shows their disgust at the proposals and the way in which both staff and students are being totally walked-over.
Imperial College is an outstanding place to study but I fear that if we do not speak out, it will soon turn into Sir Richard's dream - a mega- institution for the elite, where money and not intelligence dictate who gets in.
Imperial is a top institution, respected the world over, for its academic excellence. It is not a blue-chip company; it is an institution which has built its reputation thanks to the abilities of the people it attracts. Let us not lose sight of this fact, otherwise I fear that Sir Richard's latest, corporate experiment, will be a disaster for the UK, signalling the end of the right to a top-class university education for all, and a slippery slope towards a two-tiered, segregated society such as the United States, where ethics are second to the dollar.
For a man whose CV professes "humble beginnings", it appears that Sir Richard suffers from severe amnesia. Someone as clearly talented as himself would probably never have had the chance to achieve his fulll potential if our education system was self-funding and socially exclusive, like it is in the USA.
Hence it is very worrying indeed that most people, except for Sir Richard himself, know that intelligence is no respecter of money and social-class. Yet it is what has made Imperial College great.
So why may we ask are we allowing such a man to conduct his get-rich-quick experiment on Imperial, and be at the helm of this ill-planned voyage to certain disaster?