Tuesday, 21 October 2008

No to the sell-out of education

Cobas UK is actively protesting against the proposed reforms of the Berlusconi government in Italy aimed at privatising and cutting public funds to all levels of education, as well as research.

The neoliberal agenda to control knowledge for the ultimate benefit of capital which drives such reforms is also reflected in moves by UK institutions and elitist collectives such as the Russel Group.

Increased privatisation of universities and research means that fees will likely rise as universities sell education as a product with a quantifiable market value.

In an unstable and unjust capitalist economy, students are not guaranteed employment. In reality only a few will avoid the oppression of a lifelong struggle to meet the basic costs of living; even those who graduate from the most elite institutions.

As league tables and ‘Quality’ regimes architected to contrive an auto-referential system of accountability and competitiveness, manipulate ideas of what learning should be about, elite groups of university executives reap the rewards of a privatised HE sector. Not students. Not lecturers or professors. Not researchers.

They sell courses as products for profit, increasingly to overseas students, at huge fees. They compete for income from businesses and government. Such competition from privatisation forces universities into practices which go against public and academics’ interests. Only research and courses which can bring financial income are supported.

Private organisations should not interfere with the work or lecturers, students, departments and universities in general, whose endeavours to build knowledge for the public and social good, and right to pursue learning for its own sake, must be supported.

In a time of financial crisis, it is time to block the advancement of capital within learning institutions and safeguard against the commodification of knowledge. Privatisation and competition can bring only inequality and extortion to Higher Education.

Unite lecturers, students, parents, graduates to say no to privatisation. No to the sell-out of education.

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