‘Assault on Universities’ reviewed in Radical Philosophy

Student occupation at Goldsmiths

Writing in Radical Philosophy, Matthew Charles finds much to recommend in The Assault on Universities: A Manifesto for Resistance, edited by Michael Bailey and Des Freedman:

That many of the essays in this book are marked by the ferocity of the transformations we are experiencing is a testament to the speed and collaborative effort (involving students, researchers and academic staff) in accordance with which these essays were written and edited. Almost a third of the contributors work at Goldsmiths, whose staff and students both played an integral role in the student demonstrations at the end of last year and courageously defended the protesters – where other unions dared not – against the widespread media-led fenesteria in the wake of the attack on Millbank Tower.

The Assault on Universities is thus a timely work in several senses. Across its pages, the government’s justifications for the necessity of teaching cuts and fee hikes and its recourse to the logic of market competition are mercilessly dissected. Freedman rejects the rhetoric of austerity as counterproductive to economic recovery, and contextualizes the wider attack on public services in terms of the growing intrusion of the private sector in these services over the last decade, underpinned – as Nick Couldry points out – by Milton Friedman’s seemingly anachronistic ideology of market liberalism. As John K. Walton notes, this infects the public sector with the representatives and values of corporate capitalism: the McKinseyist business model (things that cannot be measured have no value) of a new and often semi- or non-academic managerial class. This transformation is also usefully contextualized in relation to a growing dependence on the exploitation of a workforce of precariously employed teaching staff or graduate students (highlighted in detail in Marc Bousquet’s How the University Works: Higher Education and Low-Wage Nation), to the history of the student movement, and to international changes in higher education in insightful essays by Natalie Fenton, John Rees and Marion von Osten.

Visit Radical Philosophy to read the review in full.

The Assault on Universities

A Manifesto for Resistance

Edited by Michael Bailey and Des Freedman

Sharp essays take on the government’s agenda of university cuts and fee increases, and outline an alternative manifesto for higher education.

“The corporatising of universal education is one of the most insidious and dangerous attacks on the very notion of human rights. This book calls us to arms. Every student, every educator who cares should read it.” – John Pilger

“This is an essential book. The future of our universities is up for grabs and the manifesto will play a huge role in providing alternatives at a time when the government says there aren’t any.” – Clare Solomon, President of the University of London Union (ULU) 2010-11 and editor of Springtime (2011)

£14.99 only £13.00 on the Pluto site

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