As the Comprehensive Spending Review spells out the end of state funding for teaching in the arts, humanities and social sciences, Guildsmiths, an institution where little else is studied, is first out of the revenue generation blocks with a series of typically inventive promotional events coordinated by the local branches of the Student Union and University and College Union, rumoured to be working closely with Senior Management and the Publicity and Communications Office. These events are well underway and look set to succeed in attracting the anarchists and trotskyites whose fathers’ up-front payments will, from now on, contribute the main part of Guildsmiths’ income.
Things started with a bang. A small and photogenic group of students recruited from the Drama department spent 24 hours in Guildsmiths’ administrative building documenting and publicising an ‘occupation’ which successfully put the institution back on the higher education map as destination for the radical and far left of means. If there was a question mark over whether there had been adequate attention to the authenticity of the revolutionary role and whether the students had been sufficiently briefed on alternative funding models for convincing or compelling performances, the couture and charisma of those involved more than compensated.
By the day of the Ten Eleven Ten demonstration, such kinks had been ironed out and the deployment was flawless. An army of sharp-elbowed students, reportedly remunerated by Guildsmiths according to the Chinese state model of payment per contribution, dominated social media and beat off publicity teams from other institutions to command the cameras and microphones of the mainstream media agencies. Once worldwide attention on the protest was secured, lecturers Les Dudeman, Spike Jobsworth, and Avid Grobler were deployed to channel it to Guildsmiths by commending the sacking of the Conservative Party headquarters in Millbank and disparaging their union’s leadership as spineless. On cue, Guildsmiths Senior Management dissociated themselves from these statements, cementing the impression of simmering class war and barely suppressed rebellion which attract inexperienced middle class revolutionaries like moths to a flame.
It was a spectacular display which saw expressions of interest from high-paying prospective international students hoping to study their academic subjects in a radical way at Guildsmiths rise by 55%. Consequently, Guildsmiths is now more likely to survive the financial lean times, even passing off its occasional disorganisation and several run-down parts of the campus as a charmingly authentic virtue of necessity. The accolades and ex-gratia payments belong to Les Dudeman, Spike Jobsworth, Avid Grobler, Senior Management and the magnificent Drama students.
Having secured their market niche, Guildsmiths will find it easy to shrug off this kind of negativity:
Guildsmiths can sit back while, over the coming month, students and staff at less talented institutions tackle the questions posed in the The Higher Education Policy Institute’s criticism of The Browne Review and speculate about the Commons vote to come.