Stop the cuts defend education: Kings College teach-in report

A delegation from Middlesbrough went to the teach-in on Saturday. The event brought together anti cuts campaigns from universities from across the country combining students, lecturers and university staff such as cleaners. Various alternative tutorials were organised on topics such as reclaiming our students union and lessons from 68. I attended “The corporate takeover of our universities” with speakers Alex Callinicos and Stathis Kouvelakis, who are both radical lecturers at Kings College. Callinicos outlined the effects of neo-liberalism on universities, highlighting the increasing precariousness all lecturers find themselves in. He noted that the government’s recent plan to limit students at unis, fining unis that exceed the limit, contradicts the government’s own misguided logic of the “knowledge economy”. Callinicos also spoke of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) that compels lecturers to use their research to compete with each other. The REF is measured by what Impact it makes, impact being defined as whether it helps the capitalist economy in some way. Increasingly universities are hiring lecturers who make a big impact while getting PhD students to carry out the actual teaching. He finished his speech with a general disbelief in how students unions are only concerned with Vodka nights while education is being destroyed piece by piece.  Callinicos and Kouvelakis disagreed about how unified the ruling class is, with Callinicos stating it is shaken up by the economic crisis. The closing rally brought everyone back together with speakers from the recent victory at Leeds uni as well as an activist from Greece. Terry Eagleton (Marxist literary critic) outlined his price plan for students saying it costs them £15 for mediocre ideas from him, while groundbreaking ones cost £50. He joked about how Callinicos, Kouvelakis and his academic contributions would be rated given their purpose is radical change. Eagleton stated he has attempted to deal with a social problem named Martin Amis but the universities they both worked for kicked Eagleton out rather than the Islamophobe.  He ended by saying that education should be for society not the economy.  And we all went home to build the resistance to the cuts.


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