Archive: In defence of postmodernism

(Originally published at The Socialist Imaginary) ‘In the past, when you needed information, you went to an encyclopaedia… and you could trust that the information would be true.’ Or so says Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s famed education guru, best-known as the co-ordinator of the PISA testing process which provides a comparative metric analysis of national education […]

Expendable assets: Staff and students in the pandemic university (long read)

On Friday a letter appeared in The Times – signed by ‘100 leading academics’ no less – advocating ‘a return to face-to-face teaching as soon as possible’, making clear its signatories’ rejection of UCU’s position that wherever possible, teaching in the forthcoming university term should take place online. The Times probably wouldn’t always recognise all […]

IWMD 2020: Remember the dead, fight for the living

Thomas Finn, 1886-1926 CW: Suicide, mental health issues (with thanks to Shelagh Scott who did all the primary research on Thomas Finn) International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) has had a higher media profile this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the inescapable reality of the deaths of nurses, doctors, healthcare workers, transport workers, retail […]

Rankings don’t kill people, grade inflaters do

Trigger warning: Mental health, suicide Another day, another announcement of another state-driven initiative to discipline academics and solve a state-created problem. This week, it’s grade inflation – something the Universities Minister, Sam Gyimah, has talked about off-and-on for a long time, and now, we are told, there’s going to be a ‘crackdown’. The question of […]

Why UCU should fight on

On Friday night, like most people I know, I allowed myself a smile. Status quo. Independent panel. Comparable scheme. For me, this was a win. We’d done it. Forced them to take DC off the table, as UCU’s national leadership encouraged us to believe we had done, won a commitment to an independent panel ahead […]

The end of the line for Alistair Jarvis

This morning, staff and students fighting for pensions and against marketisation woke to the surprising news that Oxford’s vice-chancellor, Louise Richardson, had emailed staff to confirm the University was reversing its position on pensions. This was all the more spectacular given that only yesterday Oxford’s famed academic self-governance was derailed by 21 ‘loyalists’ who vetoed […]

Strike week two: The university rises

Week Two of the strike, freezing temperatures, and the university reborn. It has been a remarkable three days. Across the country, picket lines have been manned with gusto, with dogs, babies and even a Strikeosaurus putting in an appearance. Students have turned out in force too, playing their part in the line and in supporting […]