Structures:  governance, finance and accountability

20 May 2013, 6-8pm, UCL, Chadwick Lecture Theatre, Chadwick Building, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT.

Confirmed speakers:

Dr Andrew McGettigan, freelance researcher and author of The Great University Gamble: Money, Markets and the Future of Higher Education
Professor Jan Toporowski, Department of Economics, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
Dr Beth Perry, Senior Research Fellow, Associate Director, Centre for Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures, University of Salford
Professor Mike Raco, UCL Bartlett School of Planning


What kinds of corporation are English universities?’

Dr Andrew McGettigan

Universities are independent, exempt charities which find themselves faced with a new, transitional funding regime and complex markets in undergraduate recruitment. This talk will sketch the variety of business practices, local engagement, transnational activity, corporate structures and financial arrangements now seen across English higher education institutions to open up debate about what this might mean for cities and traditional notions of a publicly accountable higher education system.

Andrew McGettigan writes on higher education, philosophy and the arts. He blogs at Critical Education and is the author of The Great University Gamble: money, markets and the future of higher education (Pluto, April 2013).

Making the Impossible Possible: Utopian Visions and the Privatisation of Universities

Professor Mike Raco

This paper examines how private sector involvement in state practices and structures has evolved in the UK and explores its implications for the governance and management of state bodies, including universities.  It argues that reform has been dominated by a new politics of output-centred ‘realism’, in which public bodies are to act and think like private corporations.  This increasingly involves the direct use of private companies, under contract, to act as experts who can operate core functions of the state in a better and more efficient way than state bodies can do themselves. In the UK contracting-out has reached the point where private firms even own and manage state assets directly under private finance arrangements.  The paper argues that an anti-utopian utopianism permeates such discourses with privatisation and managerialism presented as ‘solutions’ to public sector inefficiencies.  It will use examples in London, including UCL, to explore these dynamics.  It will quantify some of the changes that have taken place in the city and highlight their impacts on governance agendas and the ability to plan strategically for future (educational) needs.  It will also look at possible future trends and highlight some of the possibilities open to citizens to challenge and even disrupt them.

Mike Raco is Professor of Urban Governance and Development in the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London.  He has published widely on the topics of urban governance, regeneration, sustainability, and the politics of urban economic development.  Recent books include: State-led Privatisation and the Demise of the Democratic State:  Welfare Reform and Localism in an Era of Regulatory Capitalism (Ashgate, Hants.); Regenerating London: Governance, Sustainability and Community in a Global City (with Rob Imrie and Loretta Lees, Routledge, London); and The Future of Sustainable Cities: Critical Reflections (with John Flint, Policy Press, Bristol). Much of his research is UK focused but he has also written extensively on the politics of urban regeneration in the EU and East Asia. Recent projects have examined post-recession planning in London, Hong Kong, and Taipei, the rise of aspirational citizenship in European urban policy discourses, and the impacts of privatisation and public-private partnerships on infrastructure provision and localism.  He has previously worked at King’s College London and the Universities of Glasgow and Reading.

The Art of Co- :  Co-financing, Co-governing and Co-production for Urban Sustainability

Dr Beth Perry

This talk will take an alliterative tour through the messy realities of a live research-practice platform for urban sustainability. Seeking to embody the theory of the illusive ‘univercity’, the Greater Manchester Local Interaction Platform for Sustainable Urban Development  for Mistra Urban Futures, hosted by the University of Salford, has been set up to bring multiple stakeholders together in Greater Manchester to develop a more sustainable city-region. The ambition is huge; the practice complex, exciting and largely uncharted. This talk will highlight the drivers for and practices in setting up the platform, before summarising some key challenges and opportunities of engaged / critical research practice in the 21st century city-region.

Beth Perry is Director of the Greater Manchester Local Interaction Platform for Sustainability, Mistra Urban Futures and Associate Director of the Centre for Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures at the University of Salford. With Tim May, she has been actively engaged in and written about universities and their urban engagements for over ten years. Her research interests are in urban governance, policy, practice and research methods.