Maybe there are some signs of revolution in Britain that might be an indicator for us in North America. Tony Bates wrote a piece last November about what is happening in Britain with university education.
It falls under their economic austerity program. The British Conservative-Liberal-Democrat coalition government is making massive cuts across the whole public sector and higher education was not spared.
So, now people are talking about "reimagining the university" via the the Really Open University. They held a three-day event dedicated to exploring and demonstrating an alternative educational system.
They are asking some of the same questions I have asked here in my School 2.0 posts. How can we transform the universities? How can students and instructors learn differently through more creative, critical and empowering processes? How can higher education institutions benefit their local communities? How do we secure free education for all? Is it even possible to transform the universities?
Strike // Occupy // Transform!
Part of the issue of concern in the UK is the process of privatization that make universities run as businesses. Students become consumers and instructors become the creators of products. Knowledge is a commodity to be bought and sold.
Students are taking on more debt for basically the same education. As the university system goes bankrupt, there will be an increasing need for profound change.
What is the alternative, or solution, or the way out? The Really Open University is looking to explore how universities can become a place where creative and critical thought is fostered, where participants teach what inspires them, learn what they are passionate about, where people share and develop their skills and knowledge in order to create a more equitable and sustainable world, not simply for jobs and profit.
Instigated by students and staff of higher education institutions in the city of Leeds (UK), the ROU is non-hierarchical and open to anyone who wishes to see an end to the commodifcation of knowledge and the creation of a free and empowering education system where creative and
critical thought is fostered.
The UK economic policy will find some appeal with our own Tea Party and those who want to see teacher salaries, tenure, charter schools and tuition fees a public issue. How will U.S. universities react?