Oh Jeremy Bentham!

Would Jeremy Bentham f**k with our Pensions? !!NO!!” is perhaps not the most widely understood of all placards, but it did amuse me.  Though I’ve never studied at University College, UCL, of which he was one of the founders in 1826, his principle of  utilitarianism, that the “greatest happiness of the greatest number is the only right and proper end of government” is perhaps an earlier version of ‘for the many, not for the few‘, and UCL from the start admitted students of any race, class or religion, with women on equal terms with men.

Jeremy Bentham in 2014

Bentham (1748-1832) himself left his body to medical science but also specified it should be preserved, and since 1850 it has sat on his own chair dressed in his clothes in a glass-fronted cupboard in UCL’s South Cloisters, where you can visit him to pay your respects ever Mon-Fri from 9am to 6pm.

The occasion for the placard was a march through London by several thousand London Region UCU members and supporters, including many students. c

Socratics against tuition fees

University staff and students see the dispute not just as an argument about pensions, but about the increasing turning of university education into a simple business proposition, with cost-cutting by the use of  cheap labour from part-time workers, graduate student and others on zero hours contracts.

The Provost is an Ontological Turn Off

For Universities UK, the important thing is not the pursuit of knowledge and the maintenence of learning communities dedicated to this end but simply the accountants’ bottom line. For UUK and the Government, what matters is not the pursuit of the common good, that ‘greatest happiness of the greatest number’ but the contribution to the gross domestic product and to the profits of those of few individuals of ‘high net worth’ who are major donors to the Conservative Party and related to many of those holding power.

‘Students Not Consumers – Fouc Ault this Pensions Nonsense’

Of course many of the posters and placards were rather less ivory tower – and you can see a rather wider range in the pictures at University teachers march for pensions.


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