‘Higher education white paper is provoking a winter of discontent’
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:
- Higher education serves public benefits as well as private ones. These require financial support if these benefits are to continue to be provided.
- Public universities are necessary to build and maintain confidence in public debate.
- Public universities have a social mission, contributing to the amelioration of social inequality, which is the corollary of the promotion of social mobility.
- 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.
- Public institutions providing similar programmes of study should be funded at a similar level.
- Education cannot be treated as a simple consumer good; consumer sovereignty is an inappropriate means of placing students at the heart of the system.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.