Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Round the crown

The lastest opening of UCU to more 'extreme views' will not convince many people. UCU has suddenly become concerned with marketization of British education and is calling with a loud voice for an exchange of ideas. Indeed, it appears to be a well-directed drama in which many recognizeable voices have suddenly raised concerns on the marketization of British education and its deleterious end as a commodified field which will saturate and decline with the decline of the economy.

Such a move is from UCU unconvincing, because it lacks many of the principle characteristics of something being genuinely open. Indeed, how could it be different considering that British higher education is a good contributor to the British economy? It may be hazardous to think of this move as just another joke from the UCU leadership, but from the outset, such chameleon-like transformations do not convince.

To really move from a model of education based on the consumer paradigm to another, involves a general restructuring of the quality regime, the accountability of research teams, and the international qualification of such systems in respect of exchanges and bilateral agreements. There is nothing subversive. Actually there is nothing that can really be interesting in all this, because the real actors calling for a restructuring of ideas in higher education are the ones who must make the accounts balance for that elite caste who pay their salaries.

It is a move that, standing to British industrial relations, would look more like a countryside picnic than a real proper attempt to subvert the current elite caste affairs and doings. Actually it may seem to be exactly the opposite. But a question emerges: why all this alarmism about the marketisation of higher education and sudden passion for the disinterested and lightness of pure academia from UCU and the intellectual elite of British industrial relations?

There is nothing that the elite caste can be worried of because it is the elite caste who is speaking. As such, it is not something subversive but a sort of well directed drama in which the elite caste of union leaders reassesses the possibilities for a reinterpretation of a new role. It is a 'round the crown' exercise in which UCU calls for various strata of the intellectual elite to engage the already alienated substrate of lecturers and students of a decadent system, who cannot have the courage to talk as human beings. It is a 'round the crown' exercise to close the circle and obstruct the passage for likely infiltration of the system. It is a mask for the doings of such elite; an elite that is noticing how easy it is to dismantle and expose their servitude. I cannot see anything subversive in the curriculum of such individuals, neither anything really progressive or innovative in their leaders.

Could you imagine Sally Hunt in front of Downing Street shouting slogans against the marketisation of British education? This may not be possible, but an army of invisible flag carriers can make a simple walkway full of dispassionate individuals, look like a gigantic protest in the eyes of the believer. It was Sally Hunt who proposed time ago that the union should not be run like a University. Now she is rounding herself with professors and skilled deceivers of research to gather a consent for the loss of credibility that such Labour government and its elite caste has to face.

It is just simply a regurgitation of neo-liberal industrial relations.

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