Starting with the national walkout on the 24th, a series of workshops, lectures, events and ‘interventions’ are going to be happening across Leeds – at the Music and Art Colleges, the MET, and the University of Leeds, hosted by the Really Open University.
For a long time the university has been undergoing a process of privatisation. Universities are now run as businesses, with students as consumers and lecturers as creators of products – knowledge has become a commodity that can be bought and sold. The overwhelming purpose of the university has become to train docile workers to perform functions within a capitalist system, to contribute to the enrichment of the few rather than the collective social improvement of all.
The recent Spending Review and Browne Review takes this process to a whole new level- proposing a removal of the cap on fees which will create an even more hierarchical education system, reducing research funding, and raising fees to an estimated £9,000 a year. All this results in students taking on more debt for a hollowed-out education, lecturers being forced to carry out ‘economies exercises’ and staff working longer and harder hours for less money.
It is clear that the university system is bankrupt and in need of profound change, but no-one can see an alternative, a solution, a way out. We need to resist the threatened cuts and the ongoing onslaught on education – but we also need a transformation.
As workers and students at different places within the university system, we are putting on this event to facilitate the process of reimagining higher education. We don’t have all the answers, but we have many ideas and are sure that there are many more out there. We will explore how universities can become a place where creative and critical thought is fostered, where participants teach what inspires them, learn what they are passionate about, and strive to create a more equitable and sustainable world, not simply for jobs and profit.
How could we transform the university, how could students and lecturers learn differently through more creative, critical and empowering processes, is it even possible to transform the university without transforming the society in which it is embedded?
All these events have been organized autonomously in a decentralised manner by students and staff from across the higher education institutions of Leeds. We look to challenge the state of education, it’s role in society, and the capitalist crisis, whilst acting on our desire to create a different world.
We don’t want to defend the university, we want to transform it!