, 19 tweets, 11 min read Read on Twitter
I like @AlexUsherHESA's work and read his newsletter more or less every day. So I was surprised by his patronizing take on Stefan Collini conta.cc/2SUddhd I like Collini personally and professionally, I should say up front. But Usher gets the UK highered crisis wrong /1
He says,"certainly the UK policy debate is driven by third-rate econ-talk" that is "pretty thin stuff." True, but this thin stuff eliminated public funding for UK #highered in most subjects, allowed the instant tripling of fees, and undermined the nonelite end of the sector. /2
the thin stuff is a particularly clear version of #neoliberalism via Thatcher as @davies_will has analyzed, fused with Tory austerity ideology as described by @leninology and imposed by the UK's centralized state. The coalition gov used market economics common in the West. /3
All negative effects were categorically denied in advance. UK university leadership did the same--it took the upfront tripled fee money and, like most #highered leaders in the US, also disavowed negative impacts on students, thanks to income contingent repayment of loans. /4
The gov claimed competition would strengthen the sector and improve quality, as market forces by their very nature were said to do. They pushed loan costs off books in a scheme that only years later is being invalidated bit.ly/2Gt4L2Q /5
And years later UK #highered is becoming visibly unglued bit.ly/2DO8XGH Unique institutions like @SOAS are starting to cut the programs that made them special bit.ly/2GwWpXY Us focused on entry for working-class students & students of color are firing staff /6
In "The Great Mistake," I showed that such problems are intrinsic to the application of a private-sector business model to a public good. Forcing the #privatization model to work in #highered requires various levels of budgetary dishonesty. /7 @EricRoyalLybeck
Take U of Reading, which seems to have proven its entrepreneurial success via off-the-record borrowing from a trust that it wholly controlled. bit.ly/2DJ2eOe Ironically, the VC who slammed TGM in @timeshighered for being too anti-admin was the admin whodunnit /8
What does the unfolding disaster of UK #highered have to do with @AlexUsherHESA on Collini? It has to do with HOW "third-rate econ-talk" captured a vital sector like universities. Partly it was state power. Partly it was the intellectual capitulation of policy intellectuals/9
Within a massive ideology/framing failure, @UniversitiesUK took the fees and ignored public-good arguments. They went on to push pension cuts and other degradations of their own sector all to make the monetization model work /10 @jana_bacevic @Openreflections @reclaimuc
the consulting world to which @AlexUsherHESA belongs? Same thing: agreement on the framework in which the value of a uni degree can be defined by future wages and funded through loans as an investment in private human capital. Hence fees, end of enrolment caps, new subprimes /11
ToryUK universities minister David Willetts, who framed and enforced the privatization of funding, later wrote a book agreeing that a BA has both private and public value, calling the fee tripling costsharing. But his apparatus of wages by course/major etc is wholly pecuniary/12
Enter Collini: he was one of what, maybe a dozen, independent analysts of the situation. He had a good platform @LRB. He wrote a series of long pieces and then books setting out a systematic case against the new regime, for example /13 bit.ly/2V0w5bZ
Collini engaged with the financial model. Usher is wrong to say that he "is silent on virtually everything to do with funding and accountability." Collini is an intellectual historian but ran numbers. Did he get help from finance consultants like @AlexUsherHESA? He did not./14
Another example of forced soloing is Andrew McGettigan, who wrote The Great University Gamble in 2013, predicting essentially all the problems of the sector that professional consultants were helping the government ignore at the time. /15
He has been testifying before select committees and for the 2018 House of Lords critique of the loan scheme bit.ly/2SIJtoj though #highered policy insiders tried to get him decertified as an expert in advance /16
The situation was classic trahison des clercs--credentialed experts failed to oppose destructive policies as a group. So critics were forced to act as organic intellectuals, one at a time. @AlexUsherHESA on Collini looks like a mopping-up operation @patlockley @HallyMk1
Usher is right that Collini doesn't proposed a fullscale alternative. But he notes Collini insisting that U's "have value beyond the purely utilitarian one of economic growth." This IS the cornerstone of a theory of the U's nonpecuniary benefits that is the only way forward./18
It's something that Critical University Studies scholars like @ddubdrahcir @LizzieSwann1 @EricRoyalLybeck and many others are working on. A sustainable university will require social funding. It'd be great to have consultants including @AlexUsherHESA help with this /19
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