Co-op uni plans confirmed


At at a “historic” meeting on Thursday 12th October the Co-operative College committed to exploring a “federated co-operative university and all of its possibilities”, according to the College’s deputy vice-principle Cilla Ross.

“This includes co-operative governance, pedagogy, curriculum and new approaches to fees and funding,” she added. “We are not suggesting we have any sort of blueprint and we will be reaching out to all those interested in working co-operatively with us to rethink and remake a new higher education model.”

For Ross, the Co-operative College initiative “builds on the great work that continues to be done elsewhere exploring new models of higher education”.

On 9 November the ‘co-operative university working group’ – made up of people involved in the co-operative movement interested in exploring the possibilities of co-operative higher education – are hosting a one-day conference ‘Making the co-operative university: new places, spaces and models of higher education‘.

“The aim of the day is to network with like-minded and interested individuals and organisations through active learning and discussion,” commented Joss Winn, who has been an active member of the co-op HE movement.

Winn recently completed with colleague Mike Neary an Independent Social Research Foundation funded research project that aimed to “develop and define a conceptual framework of knowledge production grounded in co-operative values and principles” (see picture above).

Winn and Neary have been working together with others in the Lincoln Social Science Centre (SSC), a small scale not-for-profit co-operative, “organised on the basis of democratic, non-hierarchical principles, with all members having equal involvement in the life and work of the Centre”. The SCC is one of the few alternative HE initiatives borne of the 2010-11 UK student movement to survive the legacy of HE reform, and has provided a beacon of hope within an increasingly marketised sector.

According to a recent Guardian article, recently made redundant members of Ruskin College, Oxford and the Vaughan Centre for Lifelong Learning at Leicester University are also (separately) looking into co-operation as an alternative model for HE provision.