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The Uses of the University: Public Higher Education and Democracy John Holmwood, University of Nottingham Campaign for the Public University.

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Presentation on theme: "The Uses of the University: Public Higher Education and Democracy John Holmwood, University of Nottingham Campaign for the Public University."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Uses of the University: Public Higher Education and Democracy John Holmwood, University of Nottingham Campaign for the Public University

2 Issue is the impact of the market on higher education and, in particular on its public benefits. It is isn’t 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 indicates a sharp drop in part-time students and adult returners to HE

3 Mass higher education and the public university …. The expansion of the research university and government interest in university as an object of public policy, funding research to serve… – Economic growth – Military-industrial complex – Health and medicine This research was frequently of a fundamental kind with longer product cycle (cf Mazzucato)

4 But also the extension of principles of public education as a social right to higher education. – Democratisation and mass higher education – Education as a means of securing social integration and inclusion and as a value in its own right, facilitating cultural and social participation. Knowledge ‘society’ and reducing inequalities. Social benefits of expanded higher education extend beyond those who participate within it. But…

5 Between two moments… Uses of the University was the title of Clark Kerr’s book with its idea of the university’s 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. Robbins in the UK. Sir Michael Barber et al, An Avalanche is Coming. Barber was a former McKinsey consultant, member of the Browne Review and now head of Pearson HE. Key idea – ‘deliverology’. Applied to the university it involves the ‘unbundling of its multiple functions’ and separately commodifying them and making them opportunities for profit.

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 A knowledge society..? An inclusive public interest in higher education Education as a social right, underpinning democratic inclusion Higher education associated with economic growth in the context of a secular decline in inequalities (from mid-1930s to early 1980s) and the expansion of the welfare state Provision of knowledge for ‘evidence-based’ policy – linked to the foundation of the SSRC (ESRC) in 1965 But also knowledge for citizenship

8 Between the mid-1980s and late 2000s, the average Gini coefficient for OECD countries rose annually by an average of 0.3 percent, and now sits at The top 10 countries for the widest income inequalities include, USA, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand … Mexico and Chile. Income gains over the period are greatest for the top 1% [Source: OECD(2011), Society at a Glance OECD Social Indicators (www.oecd.org/els/social/indicators/SAG)www.oecd.org/els/social/indicators/SAG

9 An economy serving society? Or society serving the economy and elite advantage? USA UK/UK IRE GER SWEDEN

10 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). Note: costs of income-contingent loan system similar to system replaced, but double-burden But was the system broken? In a report for the EU in 2009, St Aubyn et al identify the UK higher education system as providing the best research and teaching outcomes of all and best value for money. Comparison with health. Inefficiencies of private health system versus public health system, despite the existence of ‘world quality’ hospitals in the former. 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.

11 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.

12 Neo-liberalism and the ‘global knowledge economy’… These changes do not reflect a ‘natural’ evolution of the economy, but neo-liberal policies to produce inequality. Capture of economic policy by national elites who now function ‘off- shore’. De-regulation of labour markets and financial markets… – Polarisation of jobs, precarious employment and poverty in employment. – Financial irresponsibility and pursuit of profits from ‘rent-seeking’ behaviour. Opening up of public services, including functions of government, to for- profit activities.

13 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 for students outside the ‘core’. Instability in recruitment to universities and subjects within university across the sector.

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

15 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); in fact, global elites, not local communities ‘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’.

16 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)

17 The current crisis in HE… Higher education seen as critical to success of UK Plc But public investment reduced to among the lowest in OECD countries, replaced by private investment derived from student fees. Argument that graduates are the beneficiaries through higher salaries and should pay, but declining returns to graduates (linked to expansion of student numbers). Instability of loan system as graduates fail to meet earnings threshold (currently £21,000, but not guaranteed). The knowledge economy no longer provides a general improvement for all, but an increased division between ‘no jobs’/ ‘bad jobs/ and ‘good jobs’. Higher education increasing necessary to get a job at all, but not necessarily a ‘good job’.

18 In a situation of increasing generational inequality where … 27% of our young people live in poverty. In the US, with similar social processes, median net worth for householders under 35 dropped by 68% from , while for those over 65 it rose by 42%. Where since 2008 there has been a 12% fall in new graduate earnings, a 9% drop in graduate vacancies, and 36% of recent graduates work in lower skilled jobs. Average rise of student debt since 2008 of 60% Where the new system of funding universities shifts the burden of costs from current (older) taxpayers onto (younger) graduates and future taxpayers (including indebted students), hereby increasing the significance of heritable resources. And where … Wealthy parents can buy advantage for their children through private education. And where… That is reinforced by the recruitment practices of selective universities. ‘Selectivity’ in universities is about differentiating the routes to ‘bad’ and ‘good jobs’ and concentrating educational resources on the latter.

19 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 couldn’t 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)]

20 And why should those who don’t 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’.

21 Conclusion… Universities should be part of a wider emphasis on social mobility. This would require: – Addressing child poverty – Reducing inequality – Challenging entrenched privilege – Supporting all young people whatever their abilities

22 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 xmlhttp://www.bloomsburyacademic.com/view/A- 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:

23 data-charts#data


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