Media Publication: “Taking back the University” for Guardian Higher Education Network

Yesterday a piece that I co-authored with Martin Eve from the University of Sussex “Taking back the University: Angry Young Academics” was published on the Guardian website. We wrote it together using google documents, entirely at a distance, which was a fun experience – especially as we got to have a good rabble about the things that have been both bothering and inspiring us about the current crisis in higher education. The original version had to be cropped and edited quite significantly (which is annoying when it comes to responding to comments, you can’t include everything when you are writing for a mainstream publication) – but hopefully we’ll be able to revise it and publish the full ‘unabridged’ version at a later date. At the time of writing, it’s been tweeted over 100 times and shared on facebook over 200 times (!) – which is a bit mind blowing really. If anything, it has been cathartic, especially when I’ve been ranting about some of this sort of stuff on my PhD notebook for the last year or so. However, to highlight some of the interesting and radical spaces that have emerged since the student protests and the implementation of the Browne Review has been the most positive aspect of the publication.

The full piece can be read on the Guardian site, extract below:

“While AC Grayling’s New College of the Humanities proposes a free-market value system as a potential saviour of the humanities, increasingly, especially among early career researchers, more radical opposition to many aspects of academia is taking form. Foremost is an anger at the increasingly “business-like” approach imposed upon postgraduate study which has been highlighted by The Economist. Here it is argued that university education has lost its supposed purpose of furthering scientific knowledge; fostering and renewing critical appreciation of the arts and educating a critically self-aware population. Instead, it is seen as a space for the functional benefit of the economy, while the latter goal is dropped entirely. Under such a model, several movements now seek a return to the idealistic root of the university. The postgraduate sits at the eye of this commodified storm, poised between the student and faculty worlds. However, they are also the least empowered to effect practical change. Perceiving the differences is only the start; how could disempowered postgraduates influence the extremely hierarchical world of academia?”

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