I thought I should write something about the recently launched Council for the Defence of British Universities. This is a group who’s goal is to protect academic values and to resist the “short term, pragmatic, and narrowly commercial” views that currently appear to persist in UK Higher Education.
I find the name a little militant and could imagine, in a Monty Python type of way, another group called the British Universities Defence Council who have the same aims, but instead of joining forces with the CDBU, end up fighting each other.
There is an article in the Times Higher Education suggesting that the CDBU is too narrow. Essentially suggesting that it is mainly “middle-aged, pale, male Oxbridge professors or Lords of the realm”, or at least almost. That was one of my first impressions too, but I do agree whole-heartedly with the aims of the CBDU, which you can find here. I have, in the past, complained that senior members of the community are unwilling to fight against the changes that are taking place in Higher Education, and here they are. Even if it is dominated by “middle-aged, pale, male Oxbridge professors or Lords of the realm”, at least they are attempting to make a stand against changes that could do immense damage to UK Higher Education. The Steering Committee does also seem more balanced, so maybe there is hope that it will be an organisation that is inclusive.
I don’t really know what else to say. I’ve been complaining for quite a while now about various aspects of UK Higher Education (introduction of tuition fees, emphasis on research over teaching driven mainly by REF2014, university management that thinks HE is a business and that generating income is a priority) and so it is very good to see a group like this starting and aiming to fight to protect more traditional academic values. Makes me think that maybe I don’t talk complete nonsense all the time. Then again, maybe we’re all wrong.