The university system is no longer fit for purpose. UK higher education was designed for much smaller numbers of students and a very different labour market. Students display worrying levels of mental health issues, exacerbated by unprecedented levels of debt, and the dubious privilege of competing for poorly-paid graduate internships. Meanwhile who goes to university is still too often determined by place of birth, gender, class or ethnicity.
Who are universities for? argues for a large-scale shake up of how we organise higher education, how we combine it with work, and how it fits into our lives. It includes radical proposals for reform of the curriculum and how we admit students to higher education, with part-time study (currently in crisis in England) becoming the norm.
A short, polemical but also deeply practical book, Who are universities for? offers concrete solutions to the problems facing UK higher education and a way forward for universities to become more inclusive and more responsive to local and global challenges.
Josie McLellan is Professor of History at the University of Bristol. She is a social and cultural historian, with particular research interests in public history and the co-production of research with people outside the university. She was a course director for the Foundation Year in Arts and Humanities, an alternative route into higher education from when the programme started in 2013 to 2017.
Richard Pettigrew is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol, with particular interests in formal epistemology and the philosophy of mathematics. He set up the Foundation Year in Arts and Humanities. He has worked, outside the university, on projects addressing literacy in prisons and supporting adults with learning disabilities.
Tom Sperlinger is Professor of Literature and Engaged Pedagogy at the University of Bristol, where he is currently working with the Widening Participation team to introduce flexible opportunities for adult learners across the arts, sciences and social sciences. He set up the part-time BA in English Literature and Community Engagement and the Foundation Year in Arts and Humanities.
Introduction: why universities are broken and how the University for Life can fix them;
Who are universities for?;
Why you can have too much of a good thing;
Why we need to leave A-Levels at the door;
Why diversity is better for everybody;
Why the University for Life will need to ask new questions;
Why it’s not just about degrees;
What works elsewhere;
This way to utopia: some practical steps we can take.