With a somewhat terrifying general election looming just over the corner, the precarity of our times, especially for young citizens, is feeling real. This shaky ground spans across housing, securing well paid work, growing debt for most and accessibility to higher education. To paraphrase the words of author David Foster Wallace, we’ve become a generation of the obscenely well-educated and equally unemployed. This however, is very likely to soon be changing.
Antiuniversity Now are just about to enter their third year of a week-long free for all educational programme. We spoke to one of 2015 co-organisers Alex Brown last year about the necessity of having a higher education programme that is not only open access for all, but that also begins to reshape the cast-iron academic standards of who can teach.
Under a conservative government we’ve seen university fees triple in 2012 from a cap of £3,000 per year to £9,000 – with universities selecting the amount they wish to opt for according to, just like any other multi-million pound industry, popularity and demand. Although this was a truly damaging legislation for generations of Britons to come, what is often brushed under the political carpet is that it was in 2002, under Tony Blair's Labour that university fees initially tripled from £1,000 to £3,000 per year.
There’s a lot to say for the validation structures formed by universities – such qualifications are running through the veins of our society. How can the same be regarded today when individuals are requested to pay huge sums of cash in return for a precarious life as a higher education graduate nonetheless? Antiuniversity Now’s brave cry to reform both who can teach, and who can study in the growing privileged realm of academia is proving that the precarity of education isn’t necessarily linked to Conservative or Labour policies, but to the way we ourselves reform what higher education means in our society.