The Antiuniversity of London – an Introduction to Deinstitutionalisation by Jakob Jakobsen

Images taken from Tim Ivison's presentation

Images taken from Tim Ivison’s presentation 05-Nov-2013 – ‘Tools of The Trade’ Part II


The Antiuniversity of London – an Introduction to Deinstitutionalisation

By Jakob Jakobsen

“We have to step out of Structure A to be able to see it. But one can’t step out if there is nowhere to step to.” (Joseph Berke, The Guardian, 15.2.1968)

“Women, Hippies, youth groups, students and school children all question the institutions that have formed them, and try to erect their obverse: a collective commune to replace the bourgeois family; ‘free communications’ and counter-media; anti-universities – all attack major ideological institutions of this society. The assaults are specified, localised and relevant. They bring the contradictions out into the open.” (Juliet Mitchell, Woman’s Estate, Penguin 1971, p.32)

The Antiuniversity of London appears in many ways as a massive failure when looked at superficially. But whether it was a terminal failure or actually an experiment that did not succeed at its specific point in history depends on how you approach this historic anti-institution. The Antiuniversity raised an enormous amount of questions. In many ways that could be viewed as sufficient in itself, if the experimental nature of this project is well-understood. Experiments are by their nature open-minded trials based on hopes and assumptions. And the key is that there is no certainty about the outcome.

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Annette Krauss: Hidden Curriculum. Discussion at Whitechapel Gallery, April 18, 2013

Originally posted on A Political Cup of Tea:

Please note:   there was considerable interest from the Whitechapel Gallery in the fact of our Radical Education Group and they were hopeful that we would stay in contact and form links.  Let’s – who’s keen to be involved?

Vicky Carmichael is Curator of Schools and Learning at Whitechapel – is the person to contact.

Annette Krauss is based at Utrecht and a publication about her work is available from CASCO Office of Art and Design, Utrecht.


I went to a talk given by Annette Krauss at the Whitechapel Gallery.  The topic was the project she has been involved in with two schools in London on the subject of the hidden curriculum.   Here’s a link that explains that Annette Krauss is the artist-in-residence at the Whitechapel Gallery and that she has a particular interest, as a conceptual artist,  in the intersection of art, politics and everyday life.


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‘SOLD OUT’, an excellent review on the Economy & Value of Education by Stefan Collini


The following extracts have been taken from Stefan Collini‘s literary review. It eloquently plays out and illuminates the politics between the Economy and Value of higher Education – subjects have been touched upon in the recent BlackGrout discussion: What’s Missing?’

Full article can be found here.



‘But why, it may be asked, go on so much about private providers when they are still such a minor presence in higher education in the UK (though not as minor as many seem to think)? Surely the changes in funding since 2010 haven’t really altered the character of mainstream universities? Surely our children and grandchildren will still have the same chance of a good education at a good public university?

Anyone who thinks the change in 2010 was merely a rise in fees, and that things have settled down and will now carry on much as usual, simply hasn’t been paying attention. This government’s whole strategy for higher education is, in the cliché it so loves to use, to create a level playing field that will enable private providers to compete on equal terms with public universities. The crucial step was taken in the autumn of 2010 with the unprecedented (and till then unannounced) decision to abolish the block grant made to universities to support the costs of teaching – abolish it entirely for Band C and Band D subjects (roughly, arts, humanities and social sciences) and in substantial part for Band A and B subjects (roughly, medicine and the natural sciences). From the point of view of private providers, that change removed a subsidy to established universities which had hitherto rendered private undergraduate fees uncompetitive in the home market. Now that every type of institution offering these subjects is largely dependent on student fees, the way is open to rig the market to drive down the price. In McGettigan’s view, deliberate steps have been taken to ‘destabilise’ the majority of institutions ‘prior to the entrance and expansion of the alternative providers, who in contrast will be nurtured into the new terrain’. On this matter at least, David Willetts, the minister responsible for higher education, has been clear: ‘The biggest lesson I have learned is that the most powerful driver of reform is to let new providers into the system.’

Note that word ‘reform’: the implication is that there is something wrong with the present arrangements that these changes will put right. And the logic of such reform is to reclassify people as consumers, thereby reducing them to economic agents in a market. The cunning of government propaganda, in higher education as elsewhere, is to pose as the champion of the consumer in order to force through the financialisation and marketisation of more and more areas of life. Who do the student-consumers need assistance against? Who is preventing them from getting what they want and therefore should have? Universities, it seems. The assumption behind the 2010 Browne Report and all subsequent government rhetoric is that giving financial clout to consumer demand through the fee system will force universities to change. No one has shown that they were failing previously or that these changes will enable them better to fulfil their purposes: the rhetorical pressure has been uniformly directed at insinuating that universities obstruct student wishes, obstruct the legitimate demands of employers, obstruct efficient management of the sector and generally just, well, obstruct. But being forced to swallow a good dose of private equity, it is claimed, will soon unblock the system. The metaphor all too accurately indicates what will thereby be produced.

Just as the replacement of public funding by fees is the vehicle for remaking universities in the image of consumer-oriented retailers, so it is also the Trojan horse which allows private capital to make a profit out of higher education. The pressure on universities to pursue commercial opportunities is not, in itself, new. For some time now, the major money-spinner has been the fees paid by students from outside the EU. In the last decade alone, the number of full-time overseas students at UK universities has increased from 175,000 to nearly 300,000. As a result, one in six of the students at UK universities now comes from outside the EU, the largest number (67,000) from China. Higher education is currently classified as the UK’s seventh largest export industry. After 2009 the UK Border Agency started to take a different view of matters, seeing universities and colleges as an easy target in its efforts to cut immigration. In August 2012 UKBA revoked London Metropolitan University’s status as a ‘highly trusted sponsor’ of student visas, potentially threatening the right of several thousand students to stay in the UK and a loss to the university of some £30 million a year. In April this year an agreement was reached, and LMU is again being allowed to recruit overseas students, but conflicting messages are coming from two government departments on this issue, with BIS urging more recruitment as part of its export drive and the Home Office tightening the rules as part of its clampdown on immigration.

But if the immigration authorities are an obstacle to bringing in yet more overseas students, why not simply take the university to where the overseas students are? Campuses of British universities in other countries have mushroomed in recent years, some in partnership with local institutions, some free-standing. They are not always in the largest or most obvious countries. The University of Central Lancashire, for instance, has a campus in Cyprus and plans for others in Sri Lanka and Thailand. UCLan Cyprus markets itself to UK as well as overseas students (‘Get a UK degree at a UK university – in Cyprus’): it charges fees of £9000, though home students who choose to go there do not (at present) have access to the UK student loan scheme. Cyprus seems to be a favoured location for these ventures. In June 2012 the University of East London in Cyprus promised to offer ‘high quality British degree programmes in one of Europe’s most popular study destinations’ at a ‘stunning new campus’, but in April 2013 it was announced that after recruiting just 17 students UEL Cyprus would be closed. A spokesman for the university, the Times Higher Education reported, ‘would not disclose how much money the university will lose’.

Many of the financial problems faced by UK higher education date back to the shocking underfunding of university expansion in the 1980s and early 1990s. The Dearing Report found that ‘public funding per student for higher education had declined from a value of 100 in 1976 and 79 in 1989 to 60 in 1994.’ That is, it nearly halved in just 18 years. The damage has never been fully repaired: between 1979 and 2011 student numbers increased by 320 per cent while public expenditure on higher education rose by only 165 per cent. Roger Brown, scarcely given to rabble-rousing, concludes: ‘In effect, market-based policies have partly compensated for – and even been a (deliberate?) distraction from – a failure to consistently invest an appropriate proportion of national wealth in higher education.’

* Value *

Despite these short-term fudges, the central logic of the coalition’s policy is clear enough, and it is emphasised in the data universities are now required to provide for applicants, the Key Information Set. The value of a university education is the income it enables you to earn minus the cost of acquiring that education. Applicants should therefore compare the salaries of graduates from different institutions, deduct the fees charged by those institutions, then make their choice on the basis of value for money. A great deal of attention, within universities but especially in politics and the media, is focused on the precise level of fee that should be charged. Universities are told to ‘compete on price’, and are therefore supposed to make decisions about what the ‘market will bear’: the merits of £8,250 as opposed to £8,750 are keenly debated.

This, as many have pointed out, is impracticable because the ‘good’ on offer is not one about which consumers can make such fine discriminations of quality. The Browne review announced, with the same breathtaking confidence with which it announced so many things, that price is the single best indicator of quality.​4 In fact, price in this case is a feeble proxy for judgments of quality. For one thing, a university education is what some analysts call a ‘post-experience good’: a full understanding of its benefits cannot be had in advance. In so far as it can be assimilated to economists’ standard categories, it has to be regarded more as a ‘positional good’ than a ‘consumer good’. A place at a particular university is not (at least at present) available to anyone with the desire and the finances to purchase it, and the ‘value’ of any given place will depend partly on the status of the university in the perceived hierarchy, something that changes with glacial slowness. This, incidentally, is another reason why it is in the interests of the most selective universities not to expand their numbers significantly. Willetts berates them for this – the open season on AAB+ applicants was intended to encourage expansion ‘at the top’ – but sensible institutions resist this pressure, and it is rational for them to do so even in market terms (it is clearly right for them to do so to protect the quality of education they can offer). The Ivy League universities, much lauded not least by coalition spokespersons, understand this very well: undergraduate numbers at Harvard, Yale and Princeton are kept down to five or six thousand, fewer than half the twelve or thirteen thousand at universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol.

Thus, under the new fees regime, applicants are supposed to take decisions based on information that can only ever be proxies for quality, such as individual universities’ spending per head or league table places. In reality, applicants are making decisions on other grounds, as they have long done: general reputation, the ‘fit’ with the kind of course they think they would like to take, the social amenities offered, location and so on. But what part should price now play in the decision-making of the ‘rational consumer’ (i.e. the 17-year-old sixth-former)? The surprising truth is that, even within the terms of intelligent consumerism, it would be foolish for typical applicants to let price be any significant determinant of their choice. (I’m leaving aside the deeper reasons why this is an undesirable way to run a higher education system.) Let’s assume that an applicant is hesitating between making University A or University B her first choice (the majority of UK applicants are female). The courses and amenities at the two universities are very similar, as are their performances according to the various criteria in the Key Information set, but University A, which is somewhat older, has traditionally had a slightly higher reputation than University B. However, while University A has set the fee for its course at £9,000, University B, attempting to situate itself in the market in the approved way, has set its fee at £8,000. So, given that they seem to be pretty much identical in every other way, this whopping difference in sticker price must be decisive, mustn’t it? And indeed, there is anecdotal evidence that some applicants under the new fee regime are responsive to precisely this consideration’


You can now listen online: Part II – Learning from Uncertainties – What’s missing

If you have missed the event, you can now listen to the full recording here:

We would love to hear your thoughts. Please write to us if you have any comments, and we hope to continue the conversation with you.

We put every effort to make this event available to the public. If you’d like to use any of the material, please credit BlackGrout. Thank you.

Tools of the Trade – ‘Translating Crafts’ Podcast now available

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What can one learn from an architectural education? What other skills can one bring to architecture? How do we transfer knowledge to enable greater mobility and creative freedom that un-draw the professional boundaries?

In conversation with:

Robert Mull, Dean and Director of Architecture at The Cass

Daisy Froud, Founder and Head of Participation AOC

Oliver Wainwright, Architecture and Design Critic of The Guardian

Paloma Strelitz, Assemble

Harry Parr, Bompas & Parr

Chaired by Jack Self, Editor Fulcrum (AA’s free weekly sheet)

The conversation was co-curated and hosted by The Architecture Foundation, on 31 October 2013. If you have missed the event, you can now listen to it here.


Full Conversation Updated

End of year architecture exhibition at the RCA, 1939, Courtesy of RCA archive
End of year architecture exhibition at the RCA, 1939, Courtesy of RCA archive

Degree Shows, Who is it for?

An In Situ Discussion on the Culture of Show-making in Architecture

Wednesday 19 June 2013

BAASO Degree Show space, ‘The Crossing’, Central St Martins College of Art and Design

– – – – – – – –

with guests:

Shumi Bose

Adam Hiles

Sean Griffiths

Richard Wentworth

– – – – – – – –

Guests in the audience includes:

Daisy Froud / Eddie Blake / Mat Barnes / Tom Randell-Page / Theodore Molloy / Freddy Tuppen / Sophia Jones / Kevin Green / Jeremy Till / Mel Dodd

Chaired and organised by Nina Shen-Poblete


For Full Text see here.

 – – – – – – – –

The event is organised by Nina Shen-Poblete, developed through dialogues with Shumi Bose, Sanna Rautio and Megan Ancliffe. It is made possible by generous support from Mel Dodd at CSM.

Annette Krauss: Hidden Curriculum. Discussion at Whitechapel Gallery, April 18, 2013

Coming up ‘Tools of the Trade’ Part 02 // Tuesday 5 November

What's missing

What’s missing from Architectural Education?

Off-Site discussion – ADA School Space

31 – 32 Alfred Place, London WC1E 7DP

Tuesday 5th November 2013, 7:00 – 9:00 pm (doors open at 6:30pm)

Situated in ADA’s school space, the discussion continues to explore the relationship between established higher education institutions and alternative practices, where we’ll be questioning the skills and knowledge missing from the prevalent education system but integral to the practice outside the individualist studio environment. What questions are simply not talked about enough? Where do we draw the line between ‘education’ and ‘real life’? 

In conversation with:

Harriet Harris, Senior Lecturer in Architecture at Oxford Brookes University

Tim Ivison, Artist and PhD researcher with the London Consortium

Tom Keeley, Director of Learning From Kilburn 

Chaired by Stephanie Farmer, Artist

Harriet is a Senior Lecturer in Architecture, currently completing a book with Routledge on the subject of Live Project pedagogy, which considers why architecture education can and should become more focussed on making a civic contribution. An active commentator on the future of architectural education, Harriet recently won funding to set up the UK’s first start-up business incubator for Architecture graduates at Oxford Brookes called Live Lab. Harriet is returning from a ‘Designing for Disasters’ hurricane resilience collaboration with professors at the New York Institute of Technology the day before this talk.

Tim  lives and works. Recent projects include the exhibition Render at Hilary Crisp, and Recent Work by Artists with Auto Italia (both 2013). Tim is currently completing a PhD on urban biopolitics at the London Consortium and is co-editor, with Tom Vandeputte, of Contestations: Learning from Critical Experiments in Education available from Bedford Press.

Tom works at the intersection of architecture, landscape and geography through writing, research, education and publishing. He runs Range Editions, a publishing venture interested in everyday architectures and unsung geographies, and is the Director of Learning from Kilburn, a tiny experimental university concerned with the study of Kilburn.

Stephanie is an artist, with experience working in teaching, editing and research in art and art history. She is currently collaborating with Kane Moore from Confit Comme Ça on a food smoker.


The events are free and open to all but it is essential to RSVP – Please click here to do so.

We look forwarding to seeing you there.

‘Tools of the Trade’ // Part 1 – ‘Translating Crafts’ at the Architecture Foundation



Part One of the BlackGrout discussion series exploring the ‘real’ values of architectural education had a warming success at The Architectural Foundation on Thursday night.

What’s the ‘true’ value of architectural education? How can this knowledge be better applied to transform our current predicaments, whilst recognising the need for other specialist knowledge in the profession?

A brilliant discussion with Robert Mull, Harry Parr, Daisy Froud, Paloma Strelitz and Olly Wainwright, skilfully chaired by Jack Self. I’d like to thank The Architecture Foundation for their support and collaboration in delivering this event.

If you missed the event, a full video recording and podcast will be uploaded shortly, followed by a review. If you have any further thoughts, questions, suggestions, please write to me and I would love to continue the discussion.

Look forward to PART II – Tuesday 2 November (ADA – 31/32 Alfred Place) details to be followed soon!

‘Tools’ of the Trade

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Brought to you by BlackGrout in collaboration with The Architecture Foundation, as part of a series of events curated in response to The AF’s latest exhibition Futures in the Making.

With the recent introduction of increased university fees the issues surrounding access to higher education have heightened and debates surrounding the necessity, relevance and value of an academic degree have been sparked. In the realms of architectural education, where the system demands a minimum of five years study, the question is begged whether such a steep investment is justifiable in relation to the opportunities available to those graduating in this subject.

The frequent disconnection between ambition and the actual career choices available to graduates suggest that perhaps a new way of thinking about architectural education and practice are called for, along with alternative sources of knowledge that better prepare students for present challenges.

This two-part series will bring together a range of practitioners, educators, theorists and students to discuss the notion of the ‘portfolio’, the toolbox by means of which a graduate gains access to the professional world. Parallel to the exhibition Futures in the Making, this conversation will focus on the values and methods that need to be protected in an increasingly product-driven education system.

Speakers include: Daisy Froud, Robert Mull, Harry Parr, Paloma Strelitz, Olly Wainwright, Harriet Harris, Tim Ivison, Tom Keeley, Jack Self, Stephanie Farmer and Nina Shen-Poblete.


Part 1: Translating Crafts

On-site discussion – Architecture Foundation

Ground Floor East, 136-148 Tooley St, London SE1 2TU

Thursday 31st October, 7:00 – 8:30pm (doors open at 6:30pm)

Part 2: Building from Uncertainties

Off-Site discussion – ADA school space

31 – 32 Alfred Place, London WC1E 7DP

Tuesday 5th November 2013, 7:00 – 9:00 pm (doors open at 6:30pm)

The events are free and open to all but it is essential to RSVP – Please click here to do so.
We look forwarding to seeing you there.

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