Designing freedom – principles for a cybernetic university

I feel it necessary to begin with a reminder of what I’m talking about when I refer to cybernetics. Since ‘cybernetic’ can evoke a range of ideas which might include cyborgs (human-machine hybrids), systems and control, general technology and the Internet, robots or perhaps just a replacement of human interaction by machines. But when I’mContinue reading “Designing freedom – principles for a cybernetic university”

Designing freedom – cybernetics and the fallacy of de-risking in Higher Education

Having completed an analysis of the systemic problems with my own institution(s), it is now time to think about what needs to be done. Much of what I have been doing follows a rather orthodox approach of labour-capital antagonism – a so-called ‘class struggle’. While this is an important political motivation, it is not enough.Continue reading “Designing freedom – cybernetics and the fallacy of de-risking in Higher Education”

Higher Education – a risky business

While the English HE sector as done well financially in the last eight years, there is a culture of risk aversion within the university. In this post I think about the issues and consider some of the effects on my Faculty and on my work in education.

A critique of the University of Cambridge’s external financing approach from the perspective of modern money theory

Remarks for the discussion at the Senate House, University of Cambridge on 6 November on the use of funds from £600 million bond issue Deputy Vice Chancellor. The Council has already approved of raising external finance by issuing bonds of up to £600 million. And I understand that this discussion is about the use ofContinue reading “A critique of the University of Cambridge’s external financing approach from the perspective of modern money theory”

Apparently there are too many PhD students

There have been some conversations in the University, I understand, that there are too many graduate students competing for too few academic jobs. There was some discussion also that we should reduce the number of graduate students. While the first statement might be true, I take issue with the second. Globally, there might be finiteContinue reading “Apparently there are too many PhD students”

Workplace nursery provision: that’s a good thing right?

This post follows my previous on a proposed new nursery at the University of Cambridge. Following a campaign by staff in the Faculty of Education, the university balloted eligible staff (mainly academics and senior administrators) on the proposal. The Grace (Cambridge’s term for a proposal) was passed by 777 votes to 151. This means thatContinue reading “Workplace nursery provision: that’s a good thing right?”

Which side are you on? Self-interest versus solidarity in higher education union organising

Workplace nursery and childcare provision in the University of Cambridge falls well short of the demand for places. In recent decades in the UK nursery provision, which used to be run by councils, has been privatised. In the privatised system supply has not kept up with demand and employers have come under pressure to provideContinue reading “Which side are you on? Self-interest versus solidarity in higher education union organising”

… and three days to recover: an open email to faculty colleagues about the UCU strike action

The text of an ‘open’ email I sent to the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education, University and College Union members, but also addressing all members of the Faculty Community Thursday 9th March 2018 Dear Faculty of Education UCU members and non-members, It is hard work withdrawing your labour. I would like to begin byContinue reading “… and three days to recover: an open email to faculty colleagues about the UCU strike action”

The Higher Education pensions dispute: a perfect storm of neo-liberalism, marketisation and austerity

The current dispute between the University and College Union (UCU) and the representative body of the employers, Universities UK (UUK), is over imposed cuts to pension benefits. According to the UCU, the annual retirement income of academics will be reduced by 10 to 40 percent. This is on top of real-terms pay cuts of 19.5Continue reading “The Higher Education pensions dispute: a perfect storm of neo-liberalism, marketisation and austerity”

Notes   [ + ]

1. http://notesfrombelow.org/issue/technology-and-the-worker
2. http://www.ucu.org.uk/circ/pdf/UCUBANHE14.pdf
3. Ibid. The accounting model changed in 2016/17 but the sector continued to secure considerable surpluses.
4. https://medium.com/@mikeotsuka/oxfords-and-cambridge-s-role-in-the-demise-of-uss-a3034b62c033
5. It is not really leaving the UK, more accurately it means there is domestic accumulation of Sterling as a consequence of overseas trade.
6. https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/new-figures-reveal-dearth-poor-students-russell-group-universities