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‘Higher education white paper is provoking a winter of discontent’

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‘Higher education white paper is provoking a winter of discontent’

Together with other groups, the Campaign for the Public University launches a Defence of Public Higher Education in the Guardian newspaper today.

In the face of the Coalition Government’s proposals to increase student fees to a level unprecedented in OECD countries, and to open up the sector to for-profit providers, the document sets out nine propositions about the benefits of public higher education:

  1. Higher education serves public benefits as well as private ones. These require financial support if these benefits are to continue to be provided.
  2. Public universities are necessary to build and maintain confidence in public debate.
  3. Public universities have a social mission, contributing to the amelioration of social inequality, which is the corollary of the promotion of social mobility.
  4. Public higher education is part of a generational contract in which an older generation invests in the wellbeing of future generations that will support them in turn.
  5. Public institutions providing similar programmes of study should be funded at a similar level.
  6. Education cannot be treated as a simple consumer good; consumer sovereignty is an inappropriate means of placing students at the heart of the system.
  7. Training in skills is not the same as a university education. While the first is valuable in its own terms, a university education provides more than technical training. This should be clearly recognised in the title of a university.
  8. The university is a community made up of diverse disciplines as well as different activities of teaching, research and external collaboration. These activities are maintained by academics, managers, administrators and a range of support staff, all of whom contribute to what is distinctive about the university as a community.
  9. Universities are not only global institutions. They also serve their local and regional communities and their different traditions and contexts are important.

To add your name to the list of signatories, email altwhitepaper[AT]live.co.uk

In Defence of Public Higher Education was prepared by a working party of academics and students representing a number of campaigns that came together over the summer to respond to the Government’s White Paper on Higher Education – Campaign for the Public University, Oxford University Campaign for Higher Education, Sussex University Defends Higher Education, Warwick University Campaign for Higher Education, Humanities Matter, No Confidence Campaign, and Cambridge Academic Campaign for Higher Education.

As well as the above campaigns, In Defence of Public Higher Education has been endorsed by the following groups and associations: British Association for American Studies (BAAS); British International Studies Association Board of Trustees (BISA); British Philosophical Association (BPA); Committee of the Free University of Liverpool; Education Activist Network Steering Committee; Feminist and Women’s Studies Association (FWSA); Goldsmiths UCU Executive; Institute of Education UCU Branch; International Relations Department, University of Sussex; Justice Violence and Rights Centre, University of Sussex; King’s College London Branch of the University and College Union; Local Schools Network; National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts; Political Studies Association Media and Politics Specialist Group; British Sociological Association.

An updated list of individual signatories is here – 2/1/2012, 0930.

  1. I fully endorse the Defence of Public Higher Education and believe that UK HE should follow the basic European model. A recent article in the German Weekly Die Zeit highlights the plight of US university students and the consequent decrease in higher education in the near future.

  2. Clive Evans says:

    The decision to raise fees was given to a small working party that included two vice-chamcellors and other well-heeled people, none of whom will be negatively affected by these inimical fees. Apart from severe social impacts, including difficulty to arrange a mortgage when carrying massive debt, these charges for education will move higher education towards a earning-power determined choice of courses, especially amongst students from poorer backgrounds. It is a savagely utilitarian policy that shames our nations and the weak and expedient politicians of all parties that pursued it.
    Recent moves to reduce financial support for the unemployed and distressed have found a majority of support amongst the population, to our lasting shame. But it serves to illustrate that our governments have now realized that they can persucute minorities at their leisure, including students.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. In Defence of Public Higher Education: the real alternative « Education Activist Network - [...] The full document can be downloaded here: http://publicuniversity.org.uk/2011/09/27/higher-education-white-paper-is-provoking-a-winter-of-disc... [...]
  2. ‘In defence of public higher education’ - [...] ‘In defence of higher education’ has been signed by more than 400 academics and is endorsed by a number …
  3. In Defense of Public Education :: Imagining the University - [...] full document and current list of signatories, can be found here (it’s also attached): http://publicuniversity.org.uk/2011/09/27/higher-education-white-paper-is-provoking-a-winter-of-disc... This is, obviously, no …
  4. In Defence of Public Higher Education « Critical Education - [...] The document is available from the website of Campaign for the Public University. [...]
  5. “Defence of Public Higher Education” — National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts - [...] Campaign for the Public University has launched a “Defence of Public Higher Education”. See their website for more. …
  6. Defence of Public Higher Education - [...] the Public University has launched its alternative White Paper on Higher Education. You can read it here. …
  7. The Campaign for Public University launches Alternative White Paper | The Sociological Imagination - [...] full document and current list of signatories, can be found here. Keep track of the Campaign for Public University …
  8. Overview of material posted here « Critical Education - [...] “In Defence of Public higher education” [...]
  9. E-Petition calling for a debate on HE White Paper and ‘Alternative White Paper’ in House of Commons | Campaign for the Public University - [...] The full text of the Alternative White Paper: In Defence of Public Higher Education can be found here. [...]
  10. Call for a Commons debate on the HE white paper « Occupy Warwick - [...] The full text of the Alternative White Paper: In Defence of Public Higher Education can be found here. [...]
  11. Defending universities: engaging the public | Campaign for the Public University - [...] in a critique of the Government’s White Paper in July 2011, and developed subsequently in an Alternative White Paper, …
  12. Radical changes on an international scale: On the parallel and simultaneous ‘reform’ of British and Czech university systems | CDBU - [...] školství! (Defend Public Higher Education!).  This work, it emerged, is a Czech translation of In Defence of Public Higher Education, …

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