WTF is wrong with education?
It is hard to sum up succinctly the multitude of problems facing the educational system in the UK. One need only think of trebled tuition fees, removing the caps on student numbers, cuts to grants, EMA and disabled students’ allowances, the proliferation of academies, attempts to sell of the student loan book, the plight of the graduate, the increased marketisation and the all-pervading consumerist culture to throw your hands up in despair at it all.
We live under an economic system that simply does not have room for the original purpose of education. Instead it is slowly but inexorably being warped into a training process where businesses can outsource their costs to the state and individuals yet again. Students in universities are shoppers not scholars, and academies are corporate investments, instead of public ones. The very foundations of these institutions, their core reasons for existence, are being eroded to be replaced by hollow shells.
I’ve just graduated and am deeply troubled about what comes next for Higher Education, as well as schools and FE too. For my university many of the problems are embodied in a campus move that will see teaching space, a smaller SU, no offices for academics and a huge amount of debt for the university, with an authoritarian senior management unwilling to listen to criticism from staff or students.
Through challenging some of the bad decisions being made at my university I kept coming up against brick walls, against things that ‘could not be done’. Increasingly I was told that ‘this is just the way the sector is going’, which gave me an idea. If this is happening in other places, then there’s bound to be students just like me trying to do something about it.
What is needed is solidarity: a network of individuals engaged in similar fights across the country that can join up and share war stories, thereby starting a conversation that can lead to real progress. All of these national problems and more are being born out in a myriad of unique ways on campuses and in classrooms across the country: and in each case local activism is fighting back.
So Bright Green are launching a series of articles that aims to share the experiences of suffering students and angry activists, tired teachers and appalled academics so those of us worried about what is happening to our education can realise we are not alone, as well as inspire one another to be able to fight back.
We are inviting you to write an article on your thoughts or experiences to get the conversation flowing between people in a similar situation.
Many of us that have been engaged in these fights or that have recognised disturbing trends in our institutions will have important information we can share with one another; about what works and what doesn’t, about how to raise awareness, about things to be prepared for when engaging power brokers on campus.
Students and teachers are the life blood and the driving force at every level of education. Occupations, collective effort and solidarity have worked in the past and can work again. As long as there is an engaged and determined set of individuals within our various institutes of learning, there is no limit to what can be achieved- a denial of this is simply a lack of imagination.
So: have you noticed a disturbing trend or policy at your school, college or university? Have you been trying to organise and fight for the future of education, either nationally or locally? Or have yo simply become aware of a national trend in education and wish to share your thoughts on it? We want to hear from you and help share your experiences with others going through similar situations.
Together we can form a network of similar individuals and pressure groups that work together to reclaim our education. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to write something for the series and get the conversation going. We would especially welcome submissions from women and black and minority ethnic (BAME) people.