Almost every newspaper in the UK today had a story about the failings of universities. A parliamentary inquiry, they said, had branded British universities as complacent, unwilling to justify their standards to outside scrutiny, unable to justify the facts that (eg) the proportion of firsts had risen significantly in the last decade or so.
As usual, if you actually look at the original report from which all this comes (rather than just the press release), the story is rather different. In this case, it is both better and worse than the newspaper reports make out.
Better? Well, the "Students and Universities" report of the House of Commons' Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee has some pretty harsh words for the government. It criticises the idea that more university places can be made available without extra funding. It queries the effect of so much emphasis on research output (writ in stone by the RAE). And it recommends that the government takes a hard look at school education before simply bashing the universities (the standard response to any question of aspiration, social mobility etc etc ). So far so good.
But there is worse in the small print.