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Monthly Archives: August 2021

The Funnelling: Higher Education for Labour-power Production in the Shadow of Covid-19

Glenn Rikowski


London, 2nd August 2021

In July 2020, under the cover of Covid-19, the UK Department for Education (DfE) published Establishment of a Higher Education Restructuring Regime in Response to COVID-19 (DfE 2020a). This document focused primarily on restructuring higher education institutions in England (but not other nations of the UK) that were ‘at risk of market exit due to the challenges of COVID-19’ (Williamson 2020: 3). If higher education (HE) institutions wanted money from the DfE then their claims on the public purse would be assessed in light of the following objectives according to Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education: protecting the welfare of current students; preserving the ‘internationally outstanding science base’; and aiding higher education providers to generate ‘high quality courses aligned with economic and societal needs’ (Ibid.).

In this article I show that Williamson’s ominously authoritarian sounding higher education restructuring regime seeks to funnel provision, teaching practices and student development into the stomach of capital. It is an educational regime for labour-power development that progressively narrows its focus; a reductionist machine that squeezes and propels work-ready graduates to points of perceived (as opposed to real) labour-power demand. As a funnelling process, this higher education restructuring regime is a program for enclosing education, imagination, institutions and aspirations into a narrow outlook based on the development of the unique capitalist commodity, labour-power, for the delight of capital and its human representatives.

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Glenn Rikowski