A manifesto for the public university by John Holmwood

By John Holmwood

The Browne document advocates, in influence, the privatisation of upper schooling in England. With the proposed removing of the present cap on scholar charges and the elimination of kingdom investment from such a lot undergraduate measure programmes, universities are set for a interval of significant reorganisation no longer visible because the better schooling reforms within the Sixties.
This e-book brings jointly the various best figures in better schooling within the united kingdom to set out what they see because the function of the collage in public existence. The publication argues for a extra balanced knowing of the price of universities than that defined within the Browne file. It advocates that they need to no longer merely be obvious by way of their contribution to monetary progress and the human capital of people but additionally when it comes to their contribution to the general public.

This e-book responds to the major debates that the Browne evaluation and govt statements have sparked, with essays at the cultural importance of the collage, the function of the govt. in investment study, inequality in better schooling, the function of quangos in public lifestyles and where of social technological know-how study. it's a well timed, vital and regarded exploration of the position of the colleges within the united kingdom and a reminder of what we must always price and defend in our greater schooling system.

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This is not a ‘postmodern’ fad. Teachers are reminded of its fundamental nature every time we encounter the bemusement of an international student – whether from China, France, Hungary or the United States of America – when faced with the peculiar demands of the British essay. Losing the illusion of a universal model of intellectual life should be more of an opportunity than a constraint. It has undeniably caused disorientation in the universities of developed countries, but it certainly does not follow that we are condemned to fragmentation, isolation and inability to communicate.

The current pushmi-pullyu between government departments regarding foreign students’ visas is just one example of this. So it is worth stating a vision for the place of universities in society that we can support and want to fight for – specifically within a British society that is both part of our European community and of a more global civil society. The dust-storm surrounding the Browne Report has so far not provided any such compelling vision. The broader trend in university politics towards more and more concrete Benthamite panopticons is a drift towards a dystopia based on deluded fantasies of control and the mistaking of transparency for omniscience.

These are drastic measures indeed, and the antithesis of the California Master Plan for Higher Education, Clark Kerr’s vision of free higher education for all who desired it, orchestrated through a system that integrated two-year community colleges, the state system of higher education and then, at its pinnacle, the University of California, crowned by its jewel of the Berkeley Campus. All this is undergoing major transformation as each campus scrambles for ways to make up the budget deficit. In the end the elite universities will survive, but at the expense of the non-elite parts of the system where degradation of conditions for educators and educated is far more precipitous.

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