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Is the current form of Higher Education in the UK viable? Developing a resilient education.


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My and Joss Winn's presentation for the Education Special Interest Group at DMU, and the Higher Education Academy Conference, on resilient education.

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Is the current form of Higher Education in the UK viable? Developing a resilient education.

  1. 1. Is the current form of Higher Education in the UK viable? Developing a resilient education. Richard Hall (, @hallymk1) Joss Winn (, @josswinn)
  2. 2. What is the role of higher education, in a world that faces significant disruption?
  3. 3. a slice of HE <ul><li>166 HEIs and 116 universities. </li></ul><ul><li>2007/8: participation for 18-30 years-old = 43%. </li></ul><ul><li>2008/9: 251,300 international students, EU = 117,660. </li></ul><ul><li>Universities employ over 372,400 staff, or 1.2% of UK workforce. </li></ul><ul><li>Responsible for 353,900 jobs in other parts of the economy. </li></ul><ul><li>UK HE generates over £59bn of output for the UK economy, including export earnings of £5.3bn. </li></ul><ul><li>[UUK, 2010] </li></ul>
  4. 4. HEFCE: not much disruption
  5. 5. HEA: not much disruption
  6. 6. JISC: not much disruption
  7. 7. disruption beyond HE There is a strong correlation between energy use and GDP. Global energy demand is on the rise yet oil supply is forecast to decline in the next few years. There is no precedent for oil discoveries to make up for the shortfall, nor is there a precedent for efficiencies to relieve demand on this scale. Public sector debt is a burden that ultimately requires economic growth to pay it off. Energy supply looks likely to constrain growth. Global emissions currently exceed the IPCC 'marker' scenario range. The Climate Change Act 2008 has made the -80%/2050 target law, yet this requires a national mobilisation akin to war-time. Probably impossible but could radically change the direction of HE in terms of skills required and spending available.
  8. 8. I = P x A x T The impact of human activities (I) is determined by the overall population (P), the level of affluence (A) and the level of technology (T). Even as the efficiency of technology improves, affluence and population scale up the impacts.
  9. 9. Technology as an efficiency factor? Where did the efficiencies go?
  10. 10. We are energy efficient! “ Energy efficiency improvement was an important phenomenon in the global energy balance over the past 30 years. Without energy efficiency improvements, the OECD nations would have used approximately 49% more energy than was actually consumed as of 1998.” Small print: Nevertheless, OECD energy use continues to rise. In 2000 it was 39% higher than in 1973.
  11. 11. Aren’t we?
  12. 12. We are, aren’t we?
  13. 13. Economy wide rebound effect
  14. 14. Economic sense?
  15. 15. more efficiently unsustainable.
  16. 16. In a business-as-usual scenario, global energy demand is forecast to rise by 40% by 2030. Fossil fuels account for over 75% of supply.
  17. 17. (You can't run a consumer society on renewable energy) Net Energy/Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROIE)
  18. 18. A 'Steady State' economy: is this capitalism? <ul><li>New meanings and measures of success </li></ul><ul><li>Limits on materials, energy, wastes and land use? </li></ul><ul><li>More meaningful prices </li></ul><ul><li>More durable, reparable goods </li></ul><ul><li>Fewer status goods </li></ul><ul><li>More informative advertising </li></ul><ul><li>Better screening of technology </li></ul><ul><li>More efficient capital stock </li></ul><ul><li>More local, less global </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced inequality </li></ul><ul><li>Less work, more leisure </li></ul><ul><li>Education for life, not just work </li></ul>Source: See also: Steady State Economy FAQ
  19. 19. Some possible outcomes in the next 10-20 years? <ul><li>From 2014, emergency investments required in new energy sources as oil declines and existing power stations decommissioned. We can't afford it. </li></ul><ul><li>Significant increase in cost of energy = Increase in cost of living. Problem with global food supplies. </li></ul><ul><li>Increased reference to 'war on climate change‘; GDP mobilised for this 'war‘. </li></ul><ul><li>IPCC 2014 report worse than 2007. UK Climate Change Act 2008 trashed. </li></ul><ul><li>Shift from mitigation to adaptation efforts. </li></ul><ul><li>Decrease/suspension of democracy. </li></ul><ul><li>Increase in resource wars drains public funds. </li></ul><ul><li>De-growth in developed countries. Decline to state of developing countries. </li></ul><ul><li>2007-8 = 'peak' of public spending on education. </li></ul><ul><li>Contraction in HE sector (real estate/staff/students). “Uneconomic.” </li></ul><ul><li>Growth in informal and/or non-institutional education. </li></ul><ul><li>Increased spending on STEM at cost of all else. Unfailing faith in technology. </li></ul><ul><li>We might be happier. </li></ul>
  20. 20. disruption within HE <ul><li>Power and control: formal and informal education; critical pedagogy; co-production </li></ul><ul><li>Neoliberalism: examples of resistance; co-governance </li></ul><ul><li>Techno-determinism: will the boffins really save us? </li></ul>
  21. 22. What might the act of being a learner in C21st civil society mean?
  22. 23. resilience Rob Hopkins: Transition Culture “ the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganise while undergoing change, so as to retain essentially the same function, structure, identity and feedbacks” Systemic diversity, modularity, feedback
  23. 24. action we have a choice between reliance on government and its resources, and its approach to command and control, or developing an empowering day-to-day community resilience. Such resilience develops engagement, education, empowerment and encouragement Political action or civil action? [DEMOS, nef]
  24. 25. Towards a curriculum for resilience? <ul><li>Complexity and increasing uncertainty in the world demands resilience </li></ul><ul><li>Integrated and social, rather than a subject-driven </li></ul><ul><li>Engaging with uncertainty through projects that involve diverse voices in civil action </li></ul><ul><li>Discourses of power – co-governance? </li></ul><ul><li>Authentic partnerships, mentoring and enquiry, in method, context, interpretation and action </li></ul>
  25. 26. Does higher education enable C21st society to address disruption? What should be done? Resilience: w hat do we value?
  26. 28. Licensing This presentation is licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales license See: