Tag Archives: goldsmiths

Back in the office – Weeknote #267 – 12th April 2024

Back to a full week, after a couple of shorter weeks. It’s still school holidays in the West, so the roads were quieter as were the trains. Well there was a few issues with the trains, but not big issues.

As it was the holidays I was in the office every day this week. Some days the office was busy and noisy, and on other days it was quieter. Friday it was very quiet.

Most of the week was researching reading, thinking, and writing.

On Tuesday I attended the HEAnet Group Advisory Forum, which is a group which supports HEAnet in Ireland. I attend as an international expert.

There are numerous stories across the press now about the financial (and other) challenges that various universities are facing. The Guardian reports on The Goldsmiths crisis: how cuts and culture wars sent universities into a death spiral.

Arts education is essential – yet on both sides of the Atlantic, the humanities and critical thinking are under attack. With massive redundancies announced at this London institution, is it the canary in the coalmine?

The article notes how what is happening at Goldsmiths is reflecting what is happening elsewhere in the sector.

Yet in many ways, what’s happening at Goldsmiths is a vivid thumbnail sketch of the crises, both accidental and deliberately manufactured, hitting the entire sector, bar a very few stunningly well-funded universities from the high-profile Russell Group.

Despite the sector being very collaborative and mutually friendly, underneath there is a fierce competitive streak. Changes in how university education was funded exposed this. As the article notes when fees were set at £9000 per year.

…Andrew McGettigan, author of the Great University Gamble and expert in university funding and finance, says: “Suddenly classroom subjects were getting a lot more than the cost of delivering teaching, so you could fund research time in your department out of the money you were getting from your students.” You could also cross-subsidise more expensive subjects. This led to what he calls “a great sucking sound” as larger, more prestigious institutions pulled in humanities students because they were very lucrative. 

The sector is facing huge challenges, and they will need to change. What that change is and what it looks like, we don’t’ really know.

Spent some time discussing our away day which is happening later this month, I am doing a session on the challenges that the higher education sector is facing.