Universities Challenged BBC Radio 4 Friday 26 October 2012

More UK university related material linked to earlier Independent post about funding, fees etc. A bit off topic for this blog perhaps, but of a major concern nonetheless.

Friday 26 October 11.00 am

Universities Challenged

BBC Radio 4 Friday 26 October 2012                                                                            

Duration: 28 minutes

The Coalition insists their reforms to the English university system will create a healthy marketplace where universities have to compete to fill their places and students become consumers shopping around for value for money, and driving up quality. But – as the Secretary of State responsible for universities, Business Secretary Vince Cable, tells this programme – that part of the reforms is “experimental”.

So how is the experiment working out?

For more than a year, Radio 4 has been given inside access to the University of Bedfordshire as it, along with every other university in England, tries to recruit as many students as it can, setting fees as high as it dares.

The programme hears how Bedfordshire’s outspoken Vice Chancellor, Professor Les Ebdon (who midway through the year became the Government’s independent universities access czar) justified charging nine thousand pounds a year – the same as Oxford and Cambridge. And how did he handle a tabloid campaign attacking him and the University’s so called “Mickey Mouse” degrees?

Professor Ebdon’s successor at Bedfordshire, former Labour universities minister Bill Rammell, also responds to the view that it’s just too easy to get into his university.

“Universities Challenged” charts an extraordinary year for English universities. It’s a story of risk, good news and some nasty surprises .

Produced by Ivor Gaber
An IGA production for BBC Radio 4 

About Virality

Tony D. Sampson is Reader in Digital Culture and Communications at the University of East London. He has a PhD in social-cultural-digital contagion theory from the Sociology Department at the University of Essex. He is a former art student who re-entered higher education in the UK as a mature student in the mid-1990s after a long stint as a gigging musician. His career in education has moved through various disciplines and departments, including a maths and computing faculty, sociology department and school of digital media and design His publications include The Spam Book, coedited with Jussi Parikka (Hampton Press, 2009), Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), The Assemblage Brain: Sense Making in Neuroculture (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), Affect and Social Media (Rowman and Littlefield, July 2018) and The Sleepwalker's Guide to Social Media (due 2020 with Polity Press). Tony is the organizer and host of the Affect and Social Media conferences in the UK (see archive on this blog). As a co-founder and co-director of the public engagement initiatives, Club Critical Theory (CCT) and the Cultural Engine Research Group (CERG), Tony has been project lead on a number of funded projects that bring impactful critical theories into the community and local political sphere to approach. These activities have included large conferences, symposia and informal lectures/workshops in pubs and community centres, co-organized with community groups and local authorities. Tony occasionally blogs at: https://viralcontagion.wordpress.com/ Full academic profile: https://www.uel.ac.uk/Staff/s/tony-sampson
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