Michael Bailey and Des Freedman: The Assault on Universities A Manifesto for Resistance

The Assault on UniversitiesMichael Bailey and Des Freedman: The Assault on Universities A Manifesto for Resistance

Pluto Press
Release Date:
04 Aug 2011
198mm x 129mm
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With funding cuts well under way and many institutions already promising to charge the maximum £9,000 yearly tuition fee, university education for the majority is under threat. This book exposes the true motives behind the government's programme and provides the analytical tools to fight it.

Widespread student protests and occupations, often supported by staff, unions and society at large, show the public's opposition to funding cuts and fee increases. The contributors to this sharp, well-written collection, many of whom are active participants in the anti-cuts movement, outline what's at stake and why it matters. They argue that university education is becoming increasingly skewed towards vocational degrees, which devalues the arts and social sciences – subjects that allow creativity and political inquiry to flourish.

Released at the beginning of the new academic year, this book will be at the heart of debates around the future of higher education in the UK and beyond, inspiring both new and seasoned activists in the fight for the soul of our universities.

About The Author

Michael Bailey is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Essex. He is the author or editor of The Uses of Richard Hoggart (2011), Mediating Faiths (2011) and Narrating Media History (2008). He has held visiting fellowships at Goldsmiths, the LSE and the University of Cambridge.

Des Freedman is Reader in Communications and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London and an editor of the journal Global Media and Communication. He is the author or editor of The Politics of Media Policy (2008), Television Policies of the Labour Party (2003) and War and the Media (2003). He is secretary of the Goldsmiths branch of the University and College Union.



1. An Introduction to Education Reform and Resistance by Des Freedman


2. The Idea of the University John K. Walton, Professor of Contemporary History, University of the Basque Country
3. What is a University Education For? Neil Faulkner, Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Bristol
4. Fighting for the University’s Life Nick Couldry, Professor of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London


5. Economic Alternatives in the Current Crisis Aeron Davis, Reader in Political Communication at Goldsmiths
6. Re-Imagining the Public Good Jon Nixon, Honorary Professor of Educational Studies, University of Sheffield, UK
7. The War Against Democracy and Education Nick Stevenson, Reader in Cultural sociology, University of Nottingham


8. The University as a Political Space Alberto Toscano, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths
9. The Academic as Truth-Teller Michael Bailey
10. Impoverished Pedagogy, Privatised Practice Natalie Fenton, Professor of Communications, Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths


11. Students Revolts Then and Now John Rees, co-founder of Stop the War Coalition
12. The Politics of Occupation Feyzi Ismail, PhD student, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
13. Achievements and Limitations of the UK Student Movement Ashok Kumar


14. Beyond the Swindle of the Corporate University Henry A. Giroux, McMaster University, Canada
15. Education Reforms in a European Context Marion von Osten, Centre for Post-Colonial Knowledge and Culture, Berlin
16. International Students and the Globalisation of Higher Education Kirsten Forkert, activist and PhD student at Goldsmiths


Demands on Government
Demands on Universities
Signatories to the Manifesto

Notes on contributors


The corporatising of universal education is one of the most insidious and dangerous attacks on the very notion of human rights. This book calls us to arms. Every student, every educator who cares should read it.
(John Pilger)

This is an essential book. The future of our universities is up for grabs and the manifesto will play a huge role in providing alternatives at a time when the government says there aren't any.
(Clare Solomon, President of the University of London Union (ULU) 2010-2011 and editor of Springtime (2011))

Universities are the new front line in the battle between the market and society. Students are being groomed for a life of debt on a learn-to-earn treadmill. Campuses are being commercialized at every turn. The Assault on Universities tells the story of what’s happening to higher education, why and what we do about it.
(Neal Lawson, chair of Compass and author of All Consuming)

The thoughtful papers collected in this important book represent a landmark intervention. They are essential reading for anybody seeking to understand the crisis in British education and the forces that produced it. Here is a timely and astute defence of the university that breaks free from the unimaginative pattern that can see education as only either a corporate or a private good. The manifesto shows what can be done to revive and expand our universities restoring their social mission.
(Professor Paul Gilroy, London School of Economics)

The Assault on Universities is a valuable contribution to ongoing global conversations about the possibilities of social, political and economic justice and the central role of cultural institutions and practices, especially education, in them.
(Lawrence Grossberg, Morris Davis Distinguished Professor of Communication Studies and Cultural Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill )