Bridge That Gap
Peter Furtado introduces the August 2004 issue of History Today.
Every August for the last ten years, we have published a survey of the state of opinion and morale in the history departments of Britain’s universities, and on several occasions the results have proved controversial to the wider media – historians’ jeremiads about the impact of university reforms, or falling standards at A-Level, or students’ inability to spell and refusal to read whole books, or financial pressures distracting students from their work, or whatever, have often caught the headlines.
This year, there is a powerful paradox. In this issue (page 18), we carry a rallying-cry from David Nicholls for us all to pay closer attention to the current round of threats facing history at secondary level – threats which he considers to have the potential of completely marginalising history in our schools, and making it a subject for the elite alone. Yet it is a commonplace of modern journalism that interest in history has never been higher. And, when we asked universities how things are looking from their perspective, the answers we got back were also resolutely upbeat.
From the universities’ perspective, there doesn’t seem to be much controversy. Or rather – cue for applause – history is popular again, applications are up across the board, students want to study all manner of topics, and they are getting sensible jobs at the other end.