I am writing to ask you to think very seriously about attending the Third Convention for Higher Education, which will take place at UCL on Saturday 15 October.
Please forward this email to your colleagues as appropriate.
We face an extraordinary – arguably existential – attack on our sector from this Government.
First they decided to push ahead with the Higher Education and Research Bill, despite the fact that it was opposed across the sector, and despite the repercussions from the EU Referendum vote that were causing crises in our institutions. By allowing private for-profit corporations to present themselves as ‘universities’, by abolishing the QAA and HEFCE, the HE Bill will intensify the scramble for undergraduate students that is already causing chaos in universities. If the Bill goes through we can expect to see universities go bankrupt within a few years.
But of course this is not enough. Now, the Conservatives openly insist on saying that they will cut the number of international students studying in the UK. They call for employers to ‘list’ foreign workers, and even say that ‘foreign academics’ will not be allowed to advise the Government over Brexit.
This situation appals everyone I know. My colleagues and students are from all over the world. We want the right to live and work together in peace. Many of us depend on international student recruitment for our jobs.
I think we all have an obligation to stand up for our sector, our colleagues and our students. We became academics because others came before us. We are part of an international community divided by specialism, not borders. Internationalism is at the core of what we do.
I also believe that we cannot expect others to stand up for us, if we will not do so ourselves.
The Third Convention for HE is one week away. Please come.
I would ask that you register to attend the event, and that you encourage colleagues to do the same. You know people I don’t, and if you agree with me that this is important, then this is something
Already confirmed speakers include Professor Alison Wolf (King’s College London), Professor Martin McQuillan (Kingston University, Council for the Defence of British Universities), Professor John Holmwood (Nottingham, Campaign for the Public University), Lee Jones (QMUL, CPU), Rachel Cohen (City), Malia Bouattia (NUS President), Gordon Marsden MP (Labour Party shadow mininster for HE), and others.
The Convention for Higher Education has brought under its umbrella a remarkably broad range of committed educationalists and supporters of Higher Education. Together, we have tremendous expertise, as The Alternative White Paper demonstrates. We have thousands of names on petitions and open letters.
But we must do more – a lot more.
What we need now is to bring people together in a movement to defend Higher Education, and to defend our colleagues and our students. The Third Convention is a crucial opportunity for colleagues to meet and discuss precisely how we can do this effectively.
For more information, please go to https://heconvention2.wordpress.com/the-3rd-convention. You can register by EventBrite for a princely fiver. (We do want to know numbers in advance for reasons of accomodation.)
What you do matters.
Please attend the Third Convention, and encourage others to do the same.
With best wishes,