CPERN statement on UK HE redundancies

We in the Critical Political Economy Research Network note the ongoing attempts to use the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity by callous University managers seeking to cut costs and further undermine the UK higher education system.

Job insecurity and under-funding for those who work in universities clearly undermines the invaluable research and education which they do. To treat a pandemic as an opportunity to provide less support for these social necessities is, we agree, despicable and impossible to fathom.

We are obviously especially concerned at rumoured moves to ‘defund’ or ‘move away from’ specific research areas that are transversal to disciplines, such as political economy

CPERN opposes redundancies for anyone working in higher education, whether for research reasons or other restructuring reasons.

We are living through what will undoubtedly be the biggest change to our national and global political economies within living memory. Public and private debt, trading relations, investment, public expenditure, environmental and labour market regulation, health care, work-life balance, housing, employment relations, global economic management, monetary policy, technological change, and global sustainable development, are each fundamental to political economy, to name just a few of our areas of study. Knowledge in each of these areas will be crucial to our collective, society-wide and planetary wellbeing in the years ahead.

We wonder which of these crucial areas of research and knowledge university managers seek to defund or move away from? And why? Based on which rationalisation?

Only an ill-considered process of mismanagement could result in the kinds of poor decisions that university managers seem determined to make, with seemingly no awareness of their universally negative results. This is clearly yet another symptom of the decline of the UK’s neoliberal and morally-bankrupt model of political economy, which is in urgent need of more study and transformation, rather than its de-funding.

Any recovery from this pandemic will also require a vibrant Critical Political Economy. It is on this goal that we as a network focus.

2 February 2021