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The changing uses of the university; neo-liberalism and the values of public higher education John Holmwood.

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Presentation on theme: "The changing uses of the university; neo-liberalism and the values of public higher education John Holmwood."— Presentation transcript:

1 The changing uses of the university; neo-liberalism and the values of public higher education John Holmwood

2 Issue is the impact of the market on higher education and, in particular on its public benefits. It is isnt straightforwardly an issue of money, but an issue of how funding is raised and how it is distributed. I will talk of a neo-liberal knowledge regime in research and teaching (I will focus on the latter, but similar arguments can be made about the commercialisation of research in the impact agenda), linked to a neo- liberal conception of a globalised knowledge economy. This, in turn, is linked to wide and widening social inequalities and, thus, the policy places universities at the centre of the production and reproduction of inequality, rather than its amelioration. Not directly evident yet in recruitment overall, but recent HEFCE Report and sharp drop in part-time students and recruitment of mature students.

3 Between two moments… Uses of the University is the title of Clark Kerrs book with its idea of the universitys multiple functions – the multiversity. Kerr, architect of the Californian Master Plan for a system of public further and higher education; its demise was officially declared last year. Sir Michael Barber et al, An Avalanche is Coming. Barber was a member of the Browne Review and architect of deliverology. Applied to the university it involves the unbundling of its multiple functions and separately commodifying them and making them opportunities for profit.

4 Figure 2 Breakdown of teaching-related income to actual and to forecast (HEFCE. Financial health of the higher education sector : to forecasts)

5 Distribution of HEI incomes in England, 2009/10 (Source: HESA 2011) (Where does the elite, bundled university begin? – first cut off, gives us 5, next gives 10, then 16 (with just a further 28 above the mean, providing 44 on the most generous estimate)

6 Robbins, the inauguration of mass higher education and its public benefits: one principle and four benefits… courses of higher education should be available for all those who are qualified by ability and attainment to pursue them and who wish to do so (1963: para 30) the public benefit of a skilled and educated workforce (1963: para 25), the public benefit of higher education in producing cultivated men and women (1963: para 26), the public benefit of securing the advancement of learning through the combination of teaching and research within institutions (1963: para 27), and the public benefit of providing a common culture and standards of citizenship (1963: para 28).

7 The Browne Report and subsequent White Paper: putting the market at the heart of the system… The only major engagements with HE since 1960s to make no reference to these public benefits, nor how they might be secured after marketisation: – Just education as a private investment in human capital, by students (and their families) – Contribution of universities to economic growth (itself a wider public benefit, as well as a benefit to private companies, but to be funded by student fees alone). But was the system broken? In a report for the EU, Aubyn et al identify the UK higher education system as providing the best research and teaching outcomes of all and best value for money. Aim, instead, is global higher education and position of individual institutions in an international rank order of HEIs. Yet those institutions serve few students and are not oriented to local needs.

8 The present position… Removal of HEFCE direct grant of public funds for undergraduate programmes in arts, humanities and social sciences. Differential fees (£6-9,000) Facilitated entry of for-profit providers, funded by private equity companies, granting of university title, access to students carrying guaranteed loans (where 30-35% of revenues go on marketing, dividends to shareholders and executive salaries). Permitting of (public) universities to pursue for-profit activities Future cost of loan system similar to that of the system it replaces, but removes immediate costs to present taxpayers, while building debt for new students who are also the future taxpayers responsible for its costs. Restriction on student numbers, but zero-sum competition between universities. Instability in recruitment to universities and subjects within university across the sector.

9 Direction of travel… Removal of fee cap of £9000 to reduce clustering at £9000 Privatise loan system and individuate it according to returns to particular courses. Plus reduce income threshold for repayment. Encouragement of low cost mass-provision, via use of Open Access/ MOOCS, with teaching support provided by casual staff (Pearson model). Polarisation of institutions between high status bundled elite, selective universities serving social elites (alignment of university fees with those of private secondary schools) and unbundled teaching only institutions unable to provide wider functions of university (including local benefits of research and employment), plus a for-profit lifelong learning mechanism. [This is similar to the situation in US, where Moodys reduced the credit rating for its higher education system as a whole in January of this year from stable to negative; Keele and De Monfort were downgraded yesterday for reasons of weakening oversight of the sector. ]

10 An economy serving society, or society serving the economy and elite advantage?

11 UN Development Report 2013 The report shows that the poorest 40 per cent of Britons share a lower proportion of the national wealth per cent - than in any other Western country. The richest fifth of Britons enjoy, on average, incomes 10 times as high as the poorest fifth. Britain ties for the worst performance by this yardstick among Western nations with Australia. The British poor are much better off in absolute terms than the poor in most Third World countries, but they are worse off than those in other Western nations. The poorest fifth of Britons have an average per capita income 32 per cent lower than their equivalents in the US and 44 per cent lower than in the Netherlands. And Child Poverty Action (conservatively) estimate that 27% of children live in poverty

12 But what are public attitudes?... Before the introduction of differential fees and the removal of direct public funding: 65% thought tuition fees should be the same across all universities 70% thought there were more advantages to a university education than simply being paid more. 75% thought cost of going to university left students with debts they couldnt afford to repay. 80% thought children from better-off families have many more advantages than children from less well-off families. Just 27% thought people in Britain have similar opportunities regardless of income [Public has been asked about HE and inequality in British Social Attitudes Survey: Discussed in McKay and Rowlingson (2011)]

13 And why should those who dont go to university pay?… The aspiration to university has been universalised, while the opportunities are beginning to be restricted: 98% of mothers of small children wish their child to go to university. (Wolf Report) The fall in support since the introduction of the new regime is greatest among those with qualifications: – Among those with graduate level qualifications, 42% support the idea that students should pay for the costs of higher education, while 30% believe there should be a reduction in the numbers studying at university. – Among those without qualifications, only 11% support the idea that students should pay for the costs of higher education,and only 19% believe there should be a reduction in student numbers. This is the emergence of education as a positional good. Achieved by attendance in the bundled, elite university.

14 Some references… Stephen McKay and Karen Rowlingson The religion of inequality in John Holmwood A Manifesto for the Public University (Bloomsbury 2011) Available free online at: Manifesto-for-the-Public-University/book-ba xml Manifesto-for-the-Public-University/book-ba xml On markets versus publics in higher education: On open access and moocs: access-and-moocs-follow-the-money/ access-and-moocs-follow-the-money/ On for profit providers: ctioncode=26 ctioncode=26 On unbundling the university:

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