A one-day conference in Manchester will this week explore the possibility of creating a co-operative university as an alternative model of higher education.
Earlier this year the Co-operative College responded to the Higher Education Act of 2017 by forming a Co-operative University Working Group. The group includes co-operative educators and practitioners, academics, students, adult and community educators, and others interested in alternative educational approaches.
The act enables new groups interested in providing degree-level education to gain degree-awarding powers. To encourage competition and innovation, it also encourages new thinking on governance, pedagogy, curriculum, fees, federated approaches and social purpose.
The conference, which will be run by the College and hosted at the Federation House in Manchester on Thursday, will focus on the potential of a co-operative university based on a federated model, such as the one of Mondragon University in Spain.
The event will feature examples of educational practice and highlight different approached to co-operative learning.
Cilla Ross, vice principal of the Co-operative College, will be joined by Mike Neary and Joss Winn of the University of Lincoln in a session on the current state of co-operative models in HE.
The members of the Co-operative University Working Group will also moderate themed discussions on aspects such as democracy, members and governance, knowledge, curriculum and pedagogy, livelihood and finances and bureaucracy and accreditation.
Last month the Co-operative College’s trustees agreed for the organisation to pursue higher education powers. The conference will be an opportunity to explore the viability of the College awarding a degree.
“Governance, fee structures, all will be radical. We are looking at power relationships in education, collaboration, co-production, peer-to-peer learning,” said Ms Ross.
The Co-operative College is already delivering a master’s in educational leadership and management in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University and a master’s in co-operative and social enterprise leadership together with Sheffield Hallam University.
The College is also giving out bursaries for those interested in attending the conference. More information on how you can apply for a bursary to cover the cost of the ticket is available here.