This article has been copied from The Times Higher Education website published by Joss Winn on 18th November 2017:
‘Last week, the Co-operative College hosted a conference in Manchester on Making the Co-operative University, with the intention of exploring its role in supporting and coordinating a federated model of cooperative higher education.
It was in 1909 that W. R. Rae, then chair of the Co-operative Union educational committee, addressed the union and stated: “What we want and seek to obtain is a cooperative journey that will end in a cooperative university”. Writing at a time when there were only 15 universities in the UK, Rae saw the development of a cooperative institution as another example of members providing for themselves where the state did not: “So long as the state does not provide it, we must do, as we have in the past, the best we can to provide it ourselves,” he said.
Over the past century, the state has provided a higher education that may have satisfied Rae. But the tripling of tuition fees in 2012 and the incremental corporatisation and marketisation of higher education since the 1980s, have angered students, academics and administrators. Once again the cooperative model of democratic member control is being identified as a necessary intervention where the state is failing to provide.
The Manchester event was preceded by a recent decision by the Co-operative College’s Board of Trustees to commit its members to explore the possibility of establishing a federated cooperative university. The federated model of cooperative solidarity is not unusual among cooperatives. In 1944, the college wrote about how it “could become the nucleus of a Co-operative University of Great Britain, with a number of affiliated sectional and regional Colleges or Co-operative institutes, as the demand arises”.
In fact, as Times Higher Education has previously reported, Mondragon University, in Spain, already exists as a federated cooperative university with a small number of staff serving four autonomous worker cooperative faculties with hundreds of academics and thousands of students. Jon Altuna, the vice-rector of Mondragon, gave a pre-recorded interview for the conference, helping to establish how and why the university was set up and the way that it is run’.
To read the full article please visit: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/blog/working-towards-cooperative-university-uk#survey-answer