In a guest blog for the London Graduate School, the editors of the Open Library of the Humanities, Martin Eve and Caroline Edwards, outline some of the issues surrounding Open Access, and explain how their project is responding to them.
The effect of QE (the government borrowing money from the Bank of England, which it owns) is to write off government debt because if you borrow from yourself you can repay at your leisure, or not at all, since no real money has changed hands. For a few billion more on a £650bn QE plan there would have been no need for £9,000 tuition fees and everything that has fallen out from them. This is once again an example of how rushed and botched the fees strategy was rather than ‘the best policy in the circumstances’.
The whole point of universities, compared to say opinionated journalism, is that the thinking that takes place in them does so over long, considered periods of time. So why should thinking about universities be so make-shift? We need a thinking that is not based upon a polarized debate about who gets to go to Oxbridge or around silly ephemera such as the ‘student premium’ and social mobility. Rather, it must be a mature evaluation of the role of Higher Education in the world today (and tomorrow) and how it is to be paid for given all the other competing demands on the public purse in that complex world. It cannot start out exclusively from the set of assumptions we have at the moment around the infallibility of markets, the light touch regulation of self-declared elites, and the vocational employability of graduates. If we are to give our universities a future, this alternative thinking of policy must embrace the ‘who knows’ of the changing global tomorrow.
Contra Harman’s faith in the transparent singularity and worthiness of notions such as ‘clarity’ and ‘proof’, a non-philosophical approach would contest whether their meaning is singular at all. Do we have a clear and universal concept of ‘clarity’, for example (that would avoid the obvious circularity of the question in its answer)? Harman remains insensitive to the force of such questions, seeing ‘method’ and ‘form’ as issues only concerning effectiveness (in capturing reality) and communicative facility (in convincing others of one’s mastery).
Facebook is not a neutral ‘tool’ for the political expression of popular reason. It is a form that is itself transformative of other political structures, ushering in a new kind of governmentality.
Applicants wishing to enter the UK now require the endorsement of one of four bodies designated as competent by the UKBA …No doubt the learned societies will say that they are trying to make the best of a bad lot and, as the Lib Dems like to say, without them things would be much worse. However, this situation is an intolerable conflation of a xenophobic immigration policy with the role of the UK’s academic institutions. What is particularly insidious is the conflation of peer review as the determination of research excellence, the competing interests of imaginary mission groups, and moral panic over the immigration of non-European citizens.
The lack of critique in public life is as detrimental to the wellbeing of our national institutions as the priority now given to market values, and clearly the two things are related as the phone hacking scandal singularly demonstrates. The scandal also demonstrates that we are all in this together… we have reached a tipping point and now have the opportunity to reset a British public realm 2.0 in which complexity, plurality and critique are central to national life and in which the value of public service and a commitment to the pursuit of enlightenment, development and the truth are the bedrock of publicly funded institutions. We must also have a commitment to the absolute necessity of an autonomous press and independent universities.
The White Paper is about the ideological demand to privatise HE in the UK, to transfer by that means the common wealth of our culture and sciences unto the hands of the few.
Browne’s prioritization concurs with Steven Hawking’s view that science is all we need to answer the big questions of philosophy, and the latter can fight for its survival among the other idols of the marketplace. Science has even superseded literature, Darwin having displaced Shakespeare as the touchstone of National Genius.
The government is now faced with the choice of clawing back funds by three means: cutting the research budget, cutting the remainder of the teaching budget for ‘priority’ science subjects, or cutting student numbers across the sector. The first two options would disproportionately effect so-called ‘elite’ universities with strong research and large science faculties, who are already as expected charging the full £9K and unable to raise additional income beyond that. The third option would be a toxic political legacy for Vince Cable and the LibDems, no longer the party of ‘social mobility’ but the party that trebled tuition fees and cut student places. David Willetts tours the television studios of the UK asserting that he does not recognise the figure of £1bn as the additional cost of price-clustering around £9K. He is quite right; the actual figure is at least £3bn per annum.