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Warwick University Ltd

Warwick University Ltd: Lessons from 1970 and the higher education sector today

A conference sponsored by Warwick Universities and Colleges Union (UCU)

Friday 6 June 2014, 10 am - 4 pm, Woods-Scawen Room, Warwick University Arts Centre

“Is it inevitable that the university will be reduced to the function of providing, with increasing authoritarian efficiency, pre-packed intellectual commodities which meet the requirements of management? Or can we by our efforts transform it into a centre of free discussion and action, tolerating and even encouraging ‘subversive’ thought and activity, for a dynamic renewal of the whole society within which it operates?” (E P Thompson, Warwick University Limited)

Warwick University Limited, edited by E.P.Thompson, the great historian of the English working class and one of Warwick's leading academics, was published as a Penguin Special in 1970. It followed events that began with a student occupation of the administration building and the discovery that some academic staff and students, in their activity outside the university, had been spied upon by local businesses. Thompson argued that this, and other correspondence discovered there, revealed surprisingly close links to business that compromised the university as an open, academic community. This conference marks the book’s republication by Spokesman, and is an opportunity to commemorate a key moment in the university's early history and to examine the book’s prescient analysis of the ‘business university’ and its relevance to higher education today.

Morning session, 10 am – 12.30 pm: Warwick 1970
Chair: Hugo Radice – ­editor, 2nd ed, Warwick University Ltd; Life Fellow, Leeds University
Speakers: Student activists from 1970:
Judith Condon – writer, editor, educationalist
Ivor Gaber – broadcaster, journalist, Professor of Political Journalism, City University
Julian Harber – botanist, former Workers’ Educational Association tutor-organiser
Barbara Winslow – Professor of Women and Gender Studies, Brooklyn College, New York Warwick University staff, 1970
David Epstein – Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, Warwick University

Afternoon session, 2 – 4.30 pm: Higher education, business and the state today
Chair: Dennis Leech chair – Warwick UCU branch, Professor of Economics, Warwick University
Tom Docherty – Professor of English, Warwick University
Lucy Gill – Post-Graduate Officer, Warwick University Students’ Union Joanna de Groot - Senior Lecturer in History, York University; UCU executive (personal capacity)
Martin Parker – Professor of Organisation and Culture, Leicester University
Nadine El-Enany - Lecturer, Birkbeck Law School; steering committee member, Defend the Right to Protest

For directions and a campus map see

Hugo Radice,
Life Fellow,
School of Politics and International Studies,
University of Leeds,
Leeds LS2 9JT, UK.


Warwick University Ltd
Industry, Management and the Universities
Edited by E. P. Thompson
Is available to buy from Spokesman Books
Price: £9.95


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