Cooperative Party weighs-in on the Higher Education and Research Bill

The Co-operative Party (which is funded by the co-operative movement and affiliated to the Labour Party) has made a public statement about the HE and Research Bill.

In the article, the opportunity created by the forthcoming Higher Education and Research Bill is to move beyond a narrow consumerist vision for the university, and towards a pluralist, internationalist and radically independent cooperative form of the university. It envisages a university based in notions of the commons, rather than on a statist ‘publicly-owned’ university.

Co-operation has always sought to reconcile good ethics and good business. This new legislation provides advantageous financial and regulatory conditions in which to establish a substantial cooperative presence in the HE sector, whether through conversion of existing institutions to a cooperative form, or through the founding of a large or small new institution.

While new HE cooperatives in the UK have tended to opt for a low cost base, the HE and Research Bill creates the conditions for new ‘challenger’ institutions to award degrees and obtain government-backed student finance from the outset. The Bill even establishes a new cooperative form of student finance to allow for Sharia-compliant equivalents to a student loan, meaning that a university could be (technically) cooperatively financed.

The for-profit private sector has been establishing a foothold in the HE sector for some years. Now really is a good time to start planning for a future for cooperative higher education in England.

 

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Social Science Centre: Manchester

The Co-operative News has covered the opening of a new cooperative higher education provider in Manchester.

As a new branch of the Social Science Centre, based on the original SSC in Lincoln, SSC Manchester has begun by tackling the biggest issue of the day, by running a course in “Understanding Brexit“.

The SSC uses the same constitution as the SSC in Lincoln, and has drawn-up a business plan. The aim is to create a self-sustaining co-operative, with a low cost base. Members contribute an hour’s pay per month.

Good luck to all involved.