The liberal, the neoliberal, the illiberal and the Higher Education Bill

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

Here's John Blewitt on the imperfections in the new higher education Bill working its way through parliament.  He argues that if universities are going to be successful in "shaping any sustainable economic alternatives to the neoliberal consensus which drives the climate crisis, then our education system has to shake itself free of market forces."

To be completely free (as implied here) is always going to be difficult in a liberal (in the nicest sense) market economy, and as with most people who write about the neoliberal turn, Blewitt fails to distinguish between the merely liberal (huzzah!) and the neoliberal (boo!).  Blewitt also vests far too hope in ESD, given that most universities have no idea what it is.  ESD cannot even save itself, let alone universities.

All that said, I've not much time for this Bill because of its authoritarianism which entrenches the power and control of an unaccountable state bureaucracy over supposedly autonomous institutions.  That is, it's an illiberal measure that will diminish our universities' power to influence society and the wider world for the greater good.

If the Bill gets onto the statute book, the only thing to do might be for universities to declare their independence of the state and all its demands.  Then, of course, they'll be able to follow ESD to their heart's content – should they want to, which seems most unlikely.



Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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