Convention for Higher Education: II

This is the second part of a summary of talks at the Convention for Higher Education, following part I.

The second plenary session was opened by Gill Scott who spoke on twenty five years of the BA in Humanities at Brighton, a successful interdisciplinary (carefully distinguished from multidisciplinary) programme bringing students into critical engagement with the disciplines. The video on the programme’s site gives a better flavour than my account.

The panel for the rest of the session was Thomas Docherty from Warwick, Priya Gopal from Cambridge, and Will Hutton, journalist and now principal of Hertford College Oxford.

Thomas Docherty spoke on the relation of forces (circumstance and nature) in the university, saying that on current trends the university will not even be a marketplace, with all the hubbub and argument that would imply. Finally, he quoted Eisenhower on the military-industrial complex taking over the university.

Priya Gopal spoke on the neoliberal university, making the point that businessmen have replaced intellectuals as the providers of universal wisdom. (This is the stand-out talk of the convention for the combination of style and content.)

After declaring his interest as chair of the Independent Commission on Fees, Will Hutton spoke provocatively on university reforms, claiming that fees have been good for the autonomy of universities. He described George Osborne’s introduction to the government’s new aerospace policy document as something Tony Benn could have written forty years ago. He was heard respectfully.

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2 Comments on “Convention for Higher Education: II”

  1. […] management, and to universities being run by non-academics (businessmen as dispensers of wisdom, in Priya Gopal’s talk) or by academics who depend on non-academics, such as directors of […]

  2. […] some short reports from the Convention for Higher Education, with links to videos of talks, here, here, here, and here. These are some thoughts on the convention […]


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