Reclaiming the University of Aberdeen

Guest Post by Professor Timothy Ingold, University of Aberdeen

We, staff and students of the University of Aberdeen, are angry. We are angry about the way our academic community and our commitment to education and scholarship have been eaten away by a corrosive regime of management that works by bullying and intimidation. We have watched in anger and dismay as fundamental principles of trust, professionalism and freedom of expression on which academic life depends have been crushed under an avalanche of mindless bullet points, dehumanising and dysfunctional IT systems, arbitrary directives and sham consultations. During the spring and summer of last year, amidst cuts to academic programmes, threats of redundancy and collapsing morale, this anger turned to outrage. In response, we mounted a campaign to claim our University back from the regime.

We launched the campaign, under the banner ‘Reclaiming our University’, on 15th October 2015. The off-campus hall we had hired for the occasion was packed with staff and students, and the atmosphere in the hall was electric. Our aim was not so much to protest – though there was plenty of that – as to think about how things could and should be done differently: about the kind of University we want, how it should be run, and how to achieve it. The idea was to use our anger to energise a programme of reconstruction: to turn the crisis into an opportunity to rebuild the University into the kind of institution that, in the present climate, we could only dream of.

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