The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) is publishing a report on the past, present and future of students’ unions in the UK. Released just before the new academic year begins, the report traces the history of student representation in higher education to show its role in higher education debates.
David versus Goliath: The past, present and future of students’ unions in the UK by Mike Day and Jim Dickinson, includes a Foreword written by Douglas Blackstock, Chief Executive of the Quality Assurance Agency.
The report digs into the origins of students’ unions and summarises their role and history through the major higher education debates of the past century. It covers student rights, in loco parentis, massification, marketisation, freedom of speech and the co-production of educational outcomes. It also reflects on emerging practice in students’ unions in relation to innovation in student-led activity.
The report reveals:
Debates over campus freedom of speech have a long history – in a 1986 letter to Phil Woolas (the NUS President and future Labour MP), Keith Joseph (the Secretary of State for Education and Science) accused the student movement of barbarianism and fascism: ‘So these new barbarians set up their own fascist policies: they ban that which they disapproved by adopting “no platform” policies.’
Student representation has a much longer history in Scotland than in England – students have had a voice in Scottish universities since the fifteenth century, the antecedents of today’s students’ unions were founded in Scotland from 1737 and the UK’s first Student Representative Council was founded in Edinburgh in 1884, whereas universities in England were not legally obliged to have a student association until 1965.
The nature of the relationship between students and their universities has long been […]