The following is an open letter, from a UEA Postgraduate SU volunteer who wishes to remain unnamed, received by The Norwich Radical on 13/03/19. We reproduce it here in full:
It is with deep regret that I write this statement concerning the conduct of one of our elected representatives at the UEA Students’ Union, with whom I’ve worked closely with over this past academic year: Martin Marko, the Postgraduate Education Officer currently standing for re-election. I feel compelled to write this given my responsibility and accountability to postgraduates at UEA as Chair of Postgraduate Committee. While I regret having to comment on Marko’s performance, his lack of professionalism has forced me into a position where either I remain silent and allow him to go unchallenged, or I speak up and make known my experience of working with him this year. It is important for me to make clear that this letter is in no way a comment on the Student Union’s electoral processes nor an endorsement for any other candidate. Nonetheless, given Marko’s decision to stand for re-election, I feel obliged to publish this letter.
By Michael Kyriacou
It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.
The traditional arguments for ‘free education’ focus on reducing the upfront price of university courses to zero. Rather than HE being a commodity to be traded on the open market, it becomes a good paid for by the government. This kind of argument rests on a contradiction: we cannot solve the commodification of HE by continuing to assert the existence of HE as commodity, even a nationalised one. Abolishing tuition fees is undoubtedly a good thing, but to move beyond their legacy we must understand HE as devoid not only of its price but also its status as a commodity. We need to explore the potential for HE grounded not in classification or institution but in the fundamental equality of intelligences – HE without the degree.
by Robyn Banks
This week, the government took the turn of the year as an opportunity to quietly announce the makeup of the board of the Office for Students (OfS), the new higher education ‘market regulator’ set to replace the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Naturally, it didn’t go unnoticed, and much has been said about the selection of Toby Young, infamous Tory party supporter. His appointment and the makeup of the rest of the board shows the absurdity at the heart of the body Jo Johnson has created, and why it will struggle to be taken seriously.
by Robyn Banks
CW: mentions transphobia
‘Universities must bring back freedom of speech!’ That was the premise of various headlines surrounding Jo Johnson’s announcement last week of proposed powers for the Office for Students (OfS). One of those proposals is that universities and student unions that don’t conform to Johnson and the OfS’ concept of ‘freedom of speech’ could receive sanctions in the form of fines. While the powers of OfS are still only at the consultation stage, this announcement gives us a rather concerning insight into the plans and aims that Johnson has for the newly formed office.