I spent yesterday afternoon in the Sheldonian Theatre where academics from the University of Oxford expressed their lack of confidence in the coalition’s higher education policies.

I had known about the meeting for some time, but I first sensed that something out of the ordinary was happening when my students started lobbying me to attend. Not only did they give me leaflets, they sent me Facebook messages. Then the Oxford University Student Union President circulated an email of support and college student councils passed resolutions endorsing the motion. And as we sat inside yesterday, listening to the vice chancellor outline the OHS regulations and warn speakers of the antilocutor device, chants could be heard echoing outside. The students, it seemed, were making common cause with their teachers.

In support of the motion were speeches that defended higher education as a public good and highlighted the incoherence and inconsistency of government policy. There were talks that endorsed universities as places of diverse and divided opinion in which individuals learn to think for themselves, and talks that upheld universities’ non-utilitarian agenda.

But as I sat listening to these robust articulations in a room full of people who seemed to be charged with a renewed sense of their mission, I realised there was something else the speakers were talking about as well… read the rest of this post at guardian.co.uk