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: the structure that took to the streets

Posted: Monday 05 Dec 2011
by Professor Scott Wilson 0 comments

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.

The Borders of the Academy: Immigration and Peer Review

Posted: Monday 24 Oct 2011
by Professor Martin McQuillan 0 comments

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.

‘Inconceivable’: Higher Education and the meaning of Rupert Murdoch

Posted: Tuesday 12 Jul 2011
by Professor Martin McQuillan 1 comments

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 University is a Noble Institution

Posted: Friday 01 Jul 2011
by Thomas Docherty 0 comments

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.

Science and Truth

Posted: Sunday 15 May 2011
by Professor Scott Wilson 0 comments

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.

Irrational Economics: time to march for the alternative, again

Posted: Tuesday 12 Apr 2011
by Professor Martin McQuillan 0 comments

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.

The Arab Minotaur: Montage of a People Deferred (pt.3)

Posted: Saturday 02 Apr 2011
by Hager Weslati 0 comments

Words such as شعب (people), which conjures up a visual representation of the labyrinth and narrow mountain pass, or ثورة (revolution) expressing an action through the mental picture of the bull, are indicative of the complex montage of image, space, bodies, action and words which characterizes the Arabic language. A more careful reading and a better translation of such key words may lead to a better understanding of the structure of feelings which informs the cultural context of the protest movements in the Arab world.

The Arab Minotaur: Montage of a People Deferred (pt.2)

Posted: Friday 11 Mar 2011
by Hager Weslati 2 comments

One of the ‘pupils’ of the French university and former student of Badiou himself, Tunisian-French philosopher Mehdi Belhaj Kacem describes Badiou’s nostalgia for hierarchy and discipline as a symptomatic position of the ‘radical chic’.
The ultra-leftist discourses of the most quintessential contemporary philosophers of the West, says Badiou’s pupil, are incapable of understanding or commenting on the Arab revolution. It is no random coincidence that Zizek’s audience meets in the comfort of the lecture venues of Europe and the United States rather than in those of Cuba or North Korea.