King of the HE policy wonks, Mark Leach has written an outstanding article on the political and narrative crisis universities now find themselves in. I won’t attempt a summary for the tldr crowd – it is worth engaging with in its entirety. At the end of the article, Leach diagnoses four areas in which the HE sector needs to improve, and second among them:
To expand and deepen his analysis of the remedies required for the HE sector, Mark has co-written an accompanying article, in which he proposes an agenda for change. Key to this agenda is embracing democracy inside institutions, and looking to cooperative models of governance and operation. The key section is here:
Five years ago I wrote a report for the Cooperative College looking at the barriers and enablers to the establishment of a cooperative university in England. At that time it seemed like a distant dream, a piece of hopeless romanticism. Nevertheless, the barriers I identified were insubstantial – practically nonexistent. And since that time, the HERA has established a climate more friendly to new or “converted” cooperative institutions, in England.
Mark is a highly respected and politically savvy commentator on HE policy. For him to be advocating experimentation with cooperation in HE is highly significant in terms of the acceptability of this idea, now.
The Cooperative University may be an idea whose time has finally come.