Jim Wolfreys 0

Convention in Defence of Higher Education

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There are 60,000 fewer students in English and Welsh universities this year (University chiefs fear for the future after admissions chaos, 10 September). This is a symptom of a process that is eradicating the egalitarian and educational ethos of higher education, and replacing it with the imperatives of individual and corporate calculation. Staff, students and applicants are to be driven by narrow, personal and pecuniary calculations in judging what to research and what to study. In an increasingly market-driven sector, institutions are being forced to "rebrand" to compete for market share, rather than co-operate as collegial, scholarly adventures. The chaotic treatment of overseas students at London Metropolitan University is the latest graphic evidence of this intent. Society as a whole is being damaged. Research output is being skewed, while independent learning and critical thought are being erased by a creeping culture of "service provision", turning students into customers. Some institutions risk bankruptcy and being sold in their entirety. Widespread hostility to these policies exists in universities, but since the student protests against fees in autumn 2010, no comparable opposition has arisen. We cannot let this continue. We invite all those opposed to these changes to join the TUC march for A Future That Works on 20 October and to come together at a Convention in Defence of Higher Education in December. This will be an open convention of staff, students, parents and educationists – to determine what needs to be reversed in government policy and what action needs to be taken. Professor Terry Eagleton Lancaster University Professor John Holmwood University of Nottingham Professor Colin Green UCL Michael Rosen (author) Dr Jim Wolfreys King's College London Professor Jacqueline Rose QMUL Professor Tom Hickey University of Brighton Dr Kate Tunstall University of Oxford Dr Nina Power University of Roehampton Professor Jonathan Woodham University of Brighton Dr Priyamvada Gopal University of Cambridge Professor Bill Schwartz QMUL Professor Luke Martell University of Sussex Professor Julian Stallabrass The Courtauld Institute of Art Professor Raf Salkie University of Brighton Dr Stathis Kouvelakis King's College London Professor Martin McQuillan Kingston University

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