the university is a factory, lets treat it as one

By Sebastian Wright

Lecturers and students alike nowadays cynically describe university education as a ‘factory’. This is, of course, a term of abuse – just think of the disturbing image from Pink Floyd’s The Wall of a conveyor belt of comprehensive students dropping into the mincing machine and emerging as a string of sausages out the other side.

Pink Floyd's The Wall presents education as a factory process as a dystopian nightmare, but does looking at it this way really need to be a problem?

The notion of the University as a mechanised profit machine is where the term derives its critical force. When the philosophy department at Middlesex University was shut down, the ‘Save Middlesex Philosophy’ campaign’s occupation strung an enormous banner out of a first floor window reading: ‘The University is a Factory[.] Strike! Occupy!’ The slogan became the emblematic image of the campaign, and hanging above a neoclassical statue with fist pumped into the air, it endowed the campaign with an uncompromising, industrial proletariat aesthetic that served to reinforce its militant credentials.

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middlesex occupation escalates

Sebastian Wright reports on the occupation of Middlesex University in the fight against the closure of its Philosophy Department

Yesterday marked the second day of the Middlesex occupation at Trent Park. Some stayed at the occupation of the Dean’s boardroom, whilst others fanned out across the other campuses at Hendon and Cathill to canvass support. At Hendon there was a surprising amount of security. It was not clear whether this had anything to do specifically with our campaign, or not, but there was certainly a degree of paranoia there. Reception refused to point us in the direction of the Dean’s office, and security guards (about 8 of them in one building!) were checking every ID.

When we finally found what appeared the directorate’s corridor, it was not, then, shocking to discover that it not only had a keypad entry security system in place, but also a privately contracted security guard permanently positioned on the door. If nothing else it goes to show the estrangement of management in universities from their own students and staff when they feel the need to lock themselves away behind multiple levels of security provision. Continue reading “middlesex occupation escalates”