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Dear all,


I haven’t written to you in a while but there are three issues I wanted to raise.

First, many of you will know that students at Sussex University have been occupying university buildings for over a month in opposition to the proposed privatisation of campus services. The occupation has been growing and has received support far and wide. It is a fantastic example of what can be done to resist the marketisation of higher education. You can read more about the occupation at
http://sussexagainstprivatization.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/bsms-occupation-statement/ but please do send a message of support to occupysussex2013@gmail.com.

Second, three high-profile members of staff have been suspended from London Metropolitan University in relation to the employment of a research administrator with a previous conviction. This is yet another attack on academic freedom and justice at the University and once again, I urge you to read more about the issue at
http://stopthewitchhunt.wordpress.com/ and to contact the University expressing your concern about the events.

Finally, I want to draw your attention to the call for a People’s Assembly Against Austerity. The initial letter backing the call is here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/feb/05/people-assembly-against-austerity.

 

It already has widespread support. I am contacting you because it would be very valuable to supplement this with support from people working inside higher education. This is especially important in light of the impact of cuts and privatisation, key elements of the austerity agenda, on the fabric of university life in the UK. I am asking you to add your name to the list of signatories to a letter that we hope to place in the Times Higher or the Guardian. The hope is that we can co-ordinate a sizeable group of university staff who can add their voice to the growing opposition to austerity and its effects. I hope I can rely on your support. Please feel free to circulate this amongst colleagues who you believe may also wish to add their names and to publicise this on blogs and other media. Messages indicating support can be returned to hemanifesto@gmail.com. Please provide your full title when replying.

 

Many thanks and best wishes

Des

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It can be read here.

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Why Faculty Should Join Occupy Movement Protesters on College Campuses - by Henry Giroux

Monday, 19 December 2011, Truthout.org

In both the United States and  many other countries, students are protesting against rising tuition fees, the increasing financial burdens they are forced to assume, and the primacy of market models in shaping higher education while emphasizing private benefits to individuals and the economy. Many students view these policies and for-profit industries as part of an assault on not just the public character of the university but also as an attack on civic society and their future. 

Read more…

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13 October: Launch event at Goldsmiths with John McDonnell MP, Andrew McGettigan and others.
Facebook event

15 October: The economic crisis, universities and academic freedom conference, University of Glasgow: http://rikowski.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/teach-in/

20 October, GLiTs seminar, Goldsmiths:
http://www.gold.ac.uk/ecl/glits/glits-current/

24 October, Coalition of Resistance rally with Tony Benn, Melissa Benn and Sean Rillo-Raczka, Des Freedman, UCL
Facebook event

3 November, ‘The Assault on Universities’, organised by Brunel University UCU

5 November, Counterforum, SOAS.
Facebook event.

7 November, Joint launch with editors of No Country for the Young, NUT HQ, London

10 November, ‘Birkbeck and the Crisis in Higher Education’, organised by Birkbeck UCU: http://www.bbk.ac.uk/ucu/news/event

16 November, 1.15pm ‘The Assault on Universities’, organised by University of Bath UCU

16 November, 5pm ‘The Assault on Universities’, organised by UWE Philosophy Society, Bristol:
Facebook event

16 November, ‘The Assault on Universities: What we can do about it’, meeting
with Alberto Toscano, Peter Hallward, Clare Solomon, Kingston University:
http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2011/11/the-assault-on-universities-what-we-can-do-about-it/

20 November, Cambridge students teach-in

22 November, ‘The Assault on Universities’, UCU/NUS Birmingham City University

23 November, 7pm, ‘The Assault on Universities, Housmans bookshop:
http://www.housmans.com/events.php

28 November, 6pm, ‘The Assault on Universities’, co-sponsored by Essex University
Education Activists Network

5 December, 1-5pm, ‘The Politicisation of Higher Education’, House of Commons, organised by Media and Politics Group of the PSA: Media and Politics group blog

7 December, 2pm, ‘The Assault on Universities’, organised by Bournemouth University UCU.

8 December, 4pm, ‘The Assault on Universities’, organised by De Montfort University UCU.

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Michael Bailey and Des Freedman are co-editors of a new section on openDemocracy called ‘Universities and Capitalism’.

The University as a centre of inquiry, research, teaching and publishing is one of the defining institutions of society. It helps to produce the knowledge on which elites depend as well as the capacity to challenge elite power. The University has long had a contested relationship to power and authority, providing both a legitimation of the status quo and independence from it, capable of both instrumental thought and critical debate. While sometimes profoundly conservative, the autonomy and independence of the University within the existing power structures is an essential part of the development of an effective challenge to them.

Today, the public university is under threat. The deficit has provided the government with an excuse to radically restructure the funding, governance and mission of higher education. Tuition fees have been trebled, teaching grants slashed, ‘business-friendly’ courses praised and the private sector encouraged as a supplier of higher education. These developments are likely to diminish the sector’s already limited independence and its capacity to research and teach outside the framework of capitalism and corporate power. The consequences of the decision in 2008 to move universities into the remit of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, of the 2010 Browne Report into university funding, and of 2011 white paper on higher education will be to turn the University into an extension of capitalism.

These developments have been fiercely contested and the ‘reform’ project, as a whole, is far from stable. The website OpenDemocracy has responded by launching the ‘Capitalism and the University’ debate, dedicated to analysing whether and how higher education is being subordinated to market logic, to assess the campaigns that have emerged in relation to recent developments, to explore alternatives to the market, and to consider the changing experience of university education from the perspective of both staff and students. We hope that it will contribute to what we see as a growing commitment not simply to defend the status quo but to re-imagine a role for the public university as a cornerstone for building an educated democracy and a just society.

Go to http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom to keep up with the latest debates.

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      DEMANDS ON GOVERNMENT:

  • Increase proportion of UK public expenditure devoted to higher education to at least the EU19 average of 1.1 per cent (up from 0.7 per cent) – a move that would bring in billions of pounds to the sector.

  • Restoration of maintenance grants and abolition of fees to be paid for through an increase in corporation tax and an increase to the top level of personal income tax.

  • Restoration of the block grant for all subjects.

  • Scrapping of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and its replacement with a way of monitoring research work based on respect for the ability of individuals and groups of researchers to define their own research aims and priorities.

  • Scrapping of the National Student Survey and other forms of evaluation which perpetuate cultures of ‘customer satisfaction’ and quality control, and their replacement with forms of feedback that encourage meaningful reflection on teaching and learning.

  • Scrapping of the Points Based System of Immigration as it affects the higher education sector and a halt to punitive measures affecting the free movement of international staff and students.


    DEMANDS ON UNIVERSITIES:
  • Commitment by employers to nationally agreed terms and conditions for all staff and recognition of trade unions to negotiate these terms and conditions.

  • Commitment by employers to address the gender pay gap with immediate effect.

  • A commitment to staff/student ratios at the OECD average or better.

  • Commitment by employers to move away from the use of hourly-paid contracts for teachers and to offer permanent contracts after two consecutive years of teaching.

  • Salaries of senior staff and vice-chancellors to be fixed as part of a nationally agreed scale with an income differential, as suggested by Citizens UK, of no more than a multiple of ten.

  • Universities to adopt mission statements, relevant to each institution, that recognise the obligation of institutions to foster independent and critical thought, to ensure access to the university for all social groups, and to seek the participation of the local community in the life of the university.

  • Democratisation of governing bodies through the allocation of equal votes to staff and student representatives, community members, and employers’ representatives.

  • An end wherever possible to the outsourcing of university services including catering, cleaning, international student recruitment, and sickness absence reporting; where outsourcing does take place, a commitment only to consider companies who recognise trade unions and who pay a Living Wage.

  • Commitment by employers to affordable, on-campus childcare provision.

  • Extension of the remit of research ethics committees to consider, with teeth, the ethics of research for the arms trade, the military and the nuclear industry.

  • Pledge by universities not to accept donations from individuals or regimes that refuse to sign a statement on academic freedom that guarantees the right of academics and researchers in the ‘donor’ countries to teach and research without fear of state intervention.

Sign the manifesto here

For questions, email HEmanifestoATgmail.com

So far, the petition has been signed by:

John McDonnell MP

John Pilger, writer and broadcaster

China Mieville, author

Nancy Fraser, Henry A. & Louise Loeb Professor of Philosophy and Politics, New School for Social Research, New York

Richard Sennett, School Professor of Sociology, emeritus The London School of Economics

Neal Lawson, chair of Compass

Karma Nabulsi, Fellow in Politics, Oxford University

Prof James Curran, Dept of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London

Fred Inglis, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Studies,University of Sheffield

Prof Angela McRobbie, Dept of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London

Prof Ernesto Laclau, Department of Comparative Literature, State University of New York at Buffalo

Wendy Brown, Emanuel Heller Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

Nick Davies, author, Flat Earth News

Scott McCracken, Professor of English Literature, Keele University

Etienne Balibar, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Université de Paris-Nanterre, Distinguished Professor of Humanities, University of California, Irvine.

Colin Leys, Emeritus Professor, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada, and Hon. Professor at Goldsmiths, University of London

Andrew Ross, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, Professor of American Studies, New York University

Lawrence Grossberg, Distinguished Professor of Communication Studies, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Prof Toby Miller, University of California, Riverside

Prof Chantal Mouffe, University of Westminster

Prof Peter Hallward, Kingston University

Nina Power, Department of Humanities, Roehampton University

Prof Mieke Bal, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

Clare Solomon, President University of London Union

Kanja Ibrahim Sesay, NUS Black Student Officer

Sam Mejias, President-elect, Institute of Education Students’ Union

Jade Baker, Education Officer, Westminster University Students’ Union

Luke Durigan, Education and Campaigns Officer-elect, UCL Students’ Union

Charlotte Gerada, General Secretary, LSE Students’ Union

Cameron Tait, President - University of Sussex Students’ Union

Daniel Lemberger Cooper, President-elect Royal Holloway Students Union

Louis Hartnoll, President, University of the Arts London Students’ Union

Prince Johnson, President, Institute of Education Students’ Union

Jasper Kain, Co-President, SOAS Students’ Union

Milaad Rajai, Co-President SOAS SU

Sean Rillo Raczka, Chair Birkbeck SU, NUS NEC, and Vice President-Elect, University of London Union

Ashok Kumar, Education Officer, LSE Students’ Union

Robyn Minogue, Education Officer, University of the Arts London Students’ Union

Claire Locke, Campaigns and Communications Officer, London Met Students Union

Michael Chessum, Education and Campaigns Officer – UCLU, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts

Mark Bergfeld, NUS National Executive, Education Activist Network

Claudia Wilopo, Campaigns Officer, Royal Holloway Students’ Union

Joe Oliver, Education Officer, Sheffield University Students’ Union

Bernard Goyder, Campaigns Officer, SOAS Students Union

Hero Austin, Community and Welfare Officer, LSE Students’ Union

Nathan Bolton, Campaigns Officer, University of Essex Students Union

Patrick St. John, Founder, ForStudentPower.org

Ben Manski, Democratizing Education Network, former co-chair US Green Party

Professor Wendy Wheeler, London Metropolitan University

Dr Nick Thoburn , Sociology , University of Manchester

Timothy Bewes, Associate Professor, Brown University

Jeremy Gilbert, Reader in Cultural Studies, University of East London

Mike Cushman, Secretary LSE UCU

Tiziana Terranova,associate professor in the Sociology of Communications at the Dipartimento di Studi Americani, Culturali e Linguistici, Università degli Studi di Napoli ‘L’Orientale’

Mark Fisher, visiting fellow, Goldsmiths, University of London

Bruno Bosteels, Professor of Romance Studies, Cornell University, Editor, Diacritics

Prof Neil Smith, Sixth Century Chair in Geography and Social Theory, University of Aberdeen

David Miller, Professor of Sociology, University of Strathclyde

Harald Bauder, Associate Professor, Dept of Geography, Ryerson University, Canada

Plus 400+ other individual academics and researchers.