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Book Review by Mark Bergfeld, April 2012 (first published here)
With the indefinite postponement of the Higher Education Bill Stefan Collini’s latest book is timely. It lies somewhere between the various manifestos of the movement and the white papers of the government. Collini sets out to defend the notion of the “public university” while at the same time accusing the government of a “reductionist consumerist” higher education policy. This makes it a must read for students, activists and trade unionists in higher education and all those interested in defending it.
Collini celebrates the inherent worth of intellectual inquiry. His writing is accessible and interesting. Ultimately however there must be an acknowledgement that the ideas of the ruling class have always reproduced themselves in universities. They are part of what Gramsci called the “hegemonic apparatus” through which the ruling class legitimises its own rule. The ideological function that churches fulfilled under feudalism, for example, is now fulfilled by universities under capitalism. (more…)
Lord Browne’s recommendation of unlimited tuition fees and the introduction of the free market into universities constitutes a devastating assault on access to education by working class people. Here, I consider the effects of the proposals and how they can be stopped.
The article was first published here.
Lord Browne’s proposals of lifting the cap from tuition fees and installing a free market in university funding is the largest attack on higher education (HE) we have seen to date. The spending review has twisted the knife further, by cutting central funding to all but the “priority” subjects. The signals are alarming.
Nick Clegg, once the favourite politician of many students, has abandoned his pledge to oppose the rise in tuition fees and calls the day of the comprehensive spending review “the beginning of the story”. Despite his soothing words that the cuts in education will not take us back into the 1930s, it has become clear that the Con-Dem coalition will take us back into the Stone Age with plans to cut up to 80 percent (£3.9 billion) of the annual teaching budget on 20 October. (more…)