Letter to Evening Standard

London’s Universities Under Threat

(submitted to Evening Standard – also see this article)

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London is a global education powerhouse. Unique in having four institutions in the top 40 rankings of the world’s best universities, together London’s higher education institutions account for nearly £6 billion annually in revenue, with £2.5 billion in export earnings. They attract nearly a quarter of a million students to the city – nearly half from abroad – and they support about 150,000 jobs directly and indirectly.

London’s universities are so successful because of their very high standards and hard-earned reputations for excellence. People want to study and teach here because of the great opportunities these institutions offer. It is therefore with dismay that we view the Government’s new Higher Education and Research Bill, currently making its way through the House of Lords. The bill risks undermining everything we have recently built up in London.

The Government proposes an entirely new and untested process for measuring the quality of university teaching provision whereby a set number of universities would be awarded gold, silver or bronze status. If, in line with current predictions, some London universities fail to achieve gold, why would students seek to apply to them and why would employers value their degrees and their graduates? This policy is just one of a number of proposed measures which undermine and restrict the freedom of universities to control their own research and teaching strategies. For example, in creating a new Government body with the power to strip institutions of their royal charters, it puts the academic freedom upon which great universities are built in doubt.

As academics who work in universities in London, we are deeply concerned about the contents of this bill. We urge members of the House of Lords to work constructively towards fundamental amendments to this potentially disastrous hotch-potch of incoming legislation – and for people to make their concerns known to their MP.

Sean Wallis (University College London, UCU NEC member and HE Convention)
Tim Horder (University of Oxford, Council for the Defence of British Universities)
Lee Jones (Queen Mary, University of London, Campaign for the Public University)
Prof Des Freedman (Goldsmiths University of London, UCU Branch Secretary)
Rachel Cohen (City, University of London, UCU NEC member)
Sir Brian Vickers, FBA (School of Advanced Study, University of London)
Prof Nadje Al Ali (SOAS, University of London)
Laura Hammond (SOAS)
David Lunn (SOAS)
Prof Reinhard Bachmann (SOAS)
Eleanor Newbigin (SOAS)
Ian Pace (City)
Newton Armstrong (City)
Aaron Einbond (City)
Alexander Lingas (City)
Shay Loya (City)
Valerie Coultas (Kingston University)
Simon Choat (Kingston)
Nigel Ling (Kingston)
Alexander Perrin (Kingston)
Rosie McNiece (Kingston, UCU Rep)
David Rogers (Kingston)
Alexandra Stara (Kingston)
Saladin Meckled-Garcia (University College London, UCU Branch President)
Sherrill Stroschein (UCL)
Martin Fry (UCL)
Prof Susan Michie (UCL)
Prof Lucie Clapp (UCL)
Martin Rosendaal (UCL)
Prof Peter Scott (UCL Institute of Education)
Prof Ronald Barnett (UCL (retd.))
Prof John F. Allen (UCL (retd.))
Prof Anson Mackay (UCL)
Hugh Goodacre (UCL)
Peter Agocs (UCL)
Trevor Murrells (King’s College London)
Heidi Lempp (KCL)
Prof Satvinder S. Juss (KCL)
Prof David Papineau (KCL)
Prof Maria Rosa Antognazza (KCL)
Prof Michael Beaney (KCL)
Prof Catherine Boyle (KCL)
Prof Malcolm Fairbairn (KCL)
Prof Erica Carter (KCL)
Prof Ben Rampton (KCL)
Prof David Treece (KCL)
Prof Jill Maben (KCL)
Prof Sherrilyn Roush (KCL)
Prof David Owens (KCL)
Prof Pat Thane (KCL)
Prof Silvina Milstein (KCL)
Prof Kate Crosby (KCL)
Prof Richard Howells (KCL)
Prof Shanta Persaud (KCL)
Prof Elaine Player (KCL)
Joachim Aufderheide (KCL)
Bill Brewer (KCL)
John Callanan (KCL)
Andrea Sangiovanni (KCL)
Jurgis Karpus (KCL)
Maria Alvarez (KCL)
Nadine Elzein (KCL)
Daniel Matlin (KCL)
Ellen Fridland (KCL)
Siobhan McIlvanney (KCL)
Deborah Chinn (KCL)
Richard E Overill (KCL)
Prof Clare Pettitt (KCL)
Deborah Robson (KCL)
Anette Schroeder-Rossell (KCL)
Andy Grant (KCL)
Max Saunders (KCL)
Clare Birchall (KCL)
Tom Brown (KCL)
Garry Stillwell (KCL)
Max Edling (KCL)
Sebastian Matzner (KCL)
Steve Phelps (KCL)
Sarah Salih (KCL)
Emily Butterworth (KCL)
Gabrielle Lyons (KCL)
Emma Tebbs (KCL)
Jenny Harris (KCL)
Jo Armes (KCL)
Paul T Seed (KCL)
Siobhan McIlvanney (KCL)
Rob Keeley (KCL)
Daniel Orrells (KCL)
Prof Leila Simona Talani (KCL)
Katherine Schofield (KCL)
Thomas Hyde (KCL)
Bérénice Guyot-Réchard (KCL)
Stylianos Hatzipanagos (KCL)
Gay Sutherland (KCL)
Victor Fan (KCL)
Graeme Lockwood (KCL)
Juan Baeza (KCL)
Johanna Malt (KCL)
Elvia Jeannette Uribe (KCL)
Miranda Stanyon (KCL)
Prof Guy Cook (KCL (retd.))
Eleanor Janega (KCL and LSE)
Eliot Michaelson (KCL)
Humeira Iqtidar (KCL)
Jill Hohenstein (KCL)
David Garrard (KCL and Oxford Brookes)
Luiz da Motta-Teixeira (KCL)
Prof David Adger (Queen Mary University of London)
Prof Sheila Hillier (Queen Mary (retd.))
Prof Daniel Harbour (Queen Mary)
Simon Carr (Queen Mary)
Graham White (Queen Mary)
Luisa Marti (Queen Mary)
Fiona McEwen (Queen Mary)
Prof Finn Fordham (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Prof Michael Gold (Royal Holloway)
Prof Barry Langford (Royal Holloway)
Prof Anne Sheppard (Royal Holloway)
Prof Andrew Bowie (Royal Holloway)
Charalambos Dendrinos (Royal Holloway)
Maire Davies (Royal Holloway)
Hazel Pearson (Queen Mary)
Adrian Budd (London South Bank University)
Chris Magill (LSBU)
Prof E.A. Brett (London School of Economics and Political Science)
Prof John Sidel (LSE)
Prof David Lewis (LSE)
Prof Robert H. Wade (LSE)
Peter Wilson (LSE)
Mike Cushman (LSE, UCU fixed term and hourly paid officer)
Katerina Dalacoura (LSE)
Michael Mason (LSE)
Laura Mann (LSE)
Lloyd Gruber (LSE)
Prof Leslie Sklair (LSE (retd.))
Shirin Madon (LSE)
Prof Jean-Paul Faguet (LSE)
Kate Meagher (LSE)
Sarah Taylor (LSE)
Prof Michael Wayne (Brunel University London)
Prof Lucia Boldrini (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Prof Frank Krause (Goldsmiths)
Prof Blake Morrison (Goldsmiths)
Padraig Kirwan (Goldsmiths)
Jane Desmarais (Goldsmiths)
Charlotte Scott (Goldsmiths)
Deac Rossell (Goldsmiths)
Maura Dooley (Goldsmiths)
Ross Raisin (Goldsmiths)
Miranda El-Rayess (Goldsmiths)
Ros Barber (Goldsmiths)
Frances Wilson (Goldsmiths)
Jack Underwood (Goldsmiths)
Naomi Wood (Goldsmiths)
Tamar Steinitz (Goldsmiths)
Prof Maggie Humm (University of East London (retd.))
Martin Gray (St George’s University of London)
Matthew King (Guildhall School of Music & Drama)
Prof Brendan Delaney (Imperial College London)
Prof Warren Chernaik (University of London (retd.))
Richard Williams (Oxford, (KCL Alumnus))
Kathleen O’Donnell (Oxford Brookes)
Dr Jonathan Hale (Nottingham)
Prof Stephen Goss (Surrey)
Volker Wieland (ESCP Europe)
Dr Michael Pace-Sigge (University of Eastern Finland)
Sam Hayden (Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance)

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About Sean

Senior Research Fellow, Survey of English Usage, University College London
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