As we near the end of the fifth week, there’s a load of stories in the media about the future of higher education. We’ve been debating the possibilities, but it’s probably still too early to say whether students will physically be in the University’s buildings in September.
If that does not happen, or maybe even if it does, there’s still no guarantee that the number of students will be close to what’s required. In fact I’d say it’s likely that the number of students enrolling or re-enrolling at Brighton in the autumn will be well down, perhaps so down as to create a major financial crisis.
It’s clear that some sort of financial bailout will be necessary to prevent some universities collapsing, but more than this, the market system of the money flowing to universities as they achieve bums on seats has to be re-considered. The current system is deeply flawed anyway, but this crisis just accelerates those problems, leaving jobs and the future prospects of existing and future students threatened.
At Brighton we’ve concentrated on the more immediate concerns our members have – the problems of working from home, the difficulties of keeping safe on campus etc, but the future prospects of higher education as a public service are weighing on all our minds.
Some of us have created a national campaign group to make sure all these ideas of a free, funded service are prominent, as and when we come out of this, and that all our universities are saved. Please let us know if you’d like to be involved.