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Tag Archives: Universities UK

Crisis in Education


The formation of the Council for the Defence of British Universities (CDBU) was announced in The Guardian on Thursday 8th November. See

From the CDBU website:

Defending A World-Class System

Universities are amongst Britain’s most successful institutions. They currently occupy four of the top six places in the QS/USNWR World University Rankings, three of the top ten of the Times Higher World University Rankings, and two of the top ten in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, with all the others going to US institutions.

They mark the ‘frontier of possibility’, according to a recent EC-sponsored study, for the efficient production of both high quality research and highly sought-after graduates:

* They produce more academic papers, citations, and highly cited papers per unit of research expenditure than any other country in the G8;

* They also rank amongst the best systems globally in performing all the other functions expected of a great university system aside from research

* They attract more international students than any university system but the US, and a higher proportion of international students than any other system but Australia

Yet the character of Britain’s universities is being radically altered.

For decades, UK universities have been bound by increasingly restrictive management practices, loaded with endlessly augmented administrative burdens, and stretched virtually to breaking point. Now, in the two years since the publication of the Browne Review‘a radical reform of the higher education system’has begun, designed to change its character fundamentally, permanently, and virtually overnight.

Although these radical changes were planned in detail before the last election, no democratic mandate for them was ever sought. Although opposed by student protests, devastated by scholarly criticism, and unsupported by even the most elementary analysis of the empirical evidence, these changes are being driven forward relentlessly without benefit of Parliamentary debate or public scrutiny.

Why has opposition to these changes proved so ineffective?

The basic answer is surprisingly simple. In the protracted recession of a knowledge economy, where knowledge is money and growth is elusive, powerful forces are bending the university to serve short-term, primarily pragmatic, and narrowly commercial ends. And no equal and opposite forces are organised to resist them.

The UK higher education sector is crowded with bodies representing the interests of one academic group or another: The Russell GroupUniversities UKMillion+, The 1994 GroupUniversity Alliance, the UCU, and the NUS, to name a few.

But no organisation exists to defend academic values and the institutional arrangements best suited to fostering them.

The problem is not that academic values are obsolete: in an increasingly complex world, they are as valid and important as ever. But after decades of subordinating them to other priorities, it can no longer be taken for granted that every educated person understands the enormous value to society as a whole of maintaining places devoted primarily to the pursuit of understanding and to the transmission of that pursuit to the next generation.

The CDBU has been established to fill this void.

Academic values need fresh reformulation and skilful advocacy by influential figures both in and outside the academic world. Scores of these figures have now come together to form the nucleus of the Council for the Defence of British Universities.

Find out who we areDiscover what we stand forJoin us.

See the CDBU website at:


Update: 15th November 2012

Academics have started to argue back on higher education reforms, by Peter Scott, in ‘The Guardian’, 12th November (online):  and 13th November (hard copy), p.39.



Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:

Online Publications at:

Glenn Rikowski’s paper on higher education, Life in the Higher Sausage Factory:

Rikowski, G. (2012) Life in the Higher Sausage Factory, Guest Lecture to the Teacher Education Research Group, The Cass School of Education and Communities, University of East London, 22nd March, online at:

World Crisis



Thursday 24 February

Demonstration at the Universities UK spring meeting 2pm Woburn House, Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9HQ.

University Vice Chancellors, whose organisation Universities UK will be holding its members’ meeting this Thursday, are preparing to hike up tuition fees and make attacks on the jobs, pay and pensions of university workers, who are now being balloted for strike action.

Many of them are also complicit in the brutal repression of protestors in the Middle East: for example, the London School of Economics (LSE) Centre for Global Governance accepted a £1.5million donation from Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, now the public face of the murderous dictatorship in Libya, and many universities work closely with arms manufacturers whose weapons have been sold across the region.

We stand in solidarity with the people of countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya as they demand bread, freedom and dignity. Part of this is fighting for a free and publicly funded education system, without fees, cuts or dodgy deals with dictators and arms dealers. This is why we will be marching on the Vice Chancellors’ Universities UK conference on Thursday, and why we support strike action by education workers against the VCs’ attacks.

For more information go to

Click to download:

leaflet: After LSE accepts blood money, we need universities of solidarity 

poster/flyer for Thursday’s demonstration in London

leaflet to UCU members: students will support strike action


‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: (recording) and (live)

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:

MySpace Profile:

The Ockress:  

Rikowski Point:

Education Crisis


1. Thursday 24th February: Day X4

Walk out for education

Today’s papers have been full of reports that Oxford and Cambridge are set to charge the maximum £9,000 tuition fees and speculation that other universities could soon follow suit. An education from a top university could soon cost over £30,000 in fees alone. Leading vice-chancellors have already publicly urged MPs to back huge rises in tuition fees, a measure they believe is ‘reasonable’ – but these same Vice Chancellors are some of the highest paid bosses in the public sector with most receiving more than £200,000 a year.

The Vice Chancellors’ lobby group Universities UK will be holding its Spring Conference on Thursday 24th February – and students will be taking to the streets in protest for Day X4. Walkouts and protests in London will converge in a mass picket of the Universities UK conference, and this will be replicated by campus protests across the country.

For more information download the flyer to or join the event on Facebook (and invite all your friends):

* Flyer for LONDON


Event page on FACEBOOK

2. Support the Strike

Students and staff unite for education

Last term students walked out and occupied to try and defeat the introduction of tuition fees and abolition of EMA. This term it could be our lecturers who take action. Every UCU member in Higher and Further Education is being balloted over strike action to defend jobs, pay and pensions.

The experience at King’s, Sussex and Leeds last year shows that when students come out and mobilise in support of strike action by staff it creates a united defence of education that can win real results. We encourage all student supporters of EAN to do everything they can to get their classmates to support the strike.

EAN strike leaflet


‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: (recording) and (live)

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:

MySpace Profile:

The Ockress:

Rikowski Point: