Higher education & the knowledge economy As a developed country we are operating at the knowledge frontier. We no longer have the choice in the globalised world to compete on low wages and low skills. We compete on knowledge – its creation, its acquisition,and its transformation into commercially successful uses... Universities are central to this process. (Department of B.I.S. ‘Higher Ambitions: the future of universities in a knowledge economy’ 2010)
World Bank concept of a ‘national innovation system’ ‘A well-articulated network of firms, research centres, universities, and think tanks that work together to take advantage of global knowledge – assimilating and adapting it to local needs, thus creating new technology. Tertiary education systems figure prominently in such systems, serving not only as the backbone for high-level skills, but as centres of basic and applied research.’ quoted Universities UK 2012
Elite British universities think on a global as well as a national scale. World-class institutions act as important conduits for international research expertise, attract and retain human capital within a particular country, and encourage international businesses to establish themselves – all factors that contribute substantially to national competitive advantage in the global knowledge economy. ‘Universities UK’ 2012
The ideal of Higher Education ‘To meet the needs of the world around it, the university’s research and teaching must be morally and intellectually independent of all political authority and intellectually independent of all political authority and economic power.’ Bologna Declaration of European Ministers of Education (1999)
Social class and the University Oxford University has the lowest proportion of working-class students, with 11.5%. London Metropolitan University has the greatest proportion, with 57.2%.London Metropolitan University
The ideal is challenged Especially since 2010, higher education in England has been subject to the political authority of government and the economic power of the market.
The means by which British universities are made globally competitive 1.Shift from government funding for teaching, to student funding of teaching, but with a government agency controlling allocation of student numbers to universities.. 2.All students will pay a fee of up to £9000 each year. Most students will take a loan to do this and to pay their living costs. Student debt at the end of a 3- year degree: £40,000+. 3. Competition between universities for government funding for research, and student numbers.
Privatisation The privatisation of university funding via student loans supports the development of for-profit higher education. The government has begun to allow private universities to award degrees (university certificates).
Higher Education as Export Recruitment of international (non-EU) students. The export earnings of higher education, including tuition fees and spending by non-UK students, has been estimated at £7.9 billion for 2009, which the sector could potentially grow to £16.9 billion by 2025. (Universities UK 2011) Contradiction between ‘export drive’ and immigration restrictions.
Student protests against threat to deport non-EU students 2012
The meaning of education Higher Education is defined in terms of its financial benefit to individuals. “What job will I earn that will pay off a loan of £40,000?”
Higher Education and social class * The 1997-2010 Labour government expanded higher education, while maintaining status distinctions within it. * Its target: 50% of age group in higher education. * Present situation – applicant numbers falling – to 33% of age group. Fall is greatest among working-class students.
Where are the crisis points? Cost to students and effects on social equality The ‘economising’ of education: its benefits defined in economic terms. The pressure on educational workers, as universities seek to reduce costs in competitive situation.
Educational workers (UCU) protesting against the dismissal of union activists
Prospects and possibilities The protest of the excluded, who can’t afford the cost of higher education. The protests of those who have loans, but look forward to a life in debt. The actions of educational workers – whose pay is in decline and whose jobs are getting harder. The ideological challenge to economised education.