Conference announcement: ‘Warwick University Ltd’, University of Warwick, 6 June 2014

‘Warwick University Ltd: Lessons from 1970 and
the higher education sector today’

A conference sponsored by Warwick UCU

Friday 6 June 2014, Woods-Scawen Room, Warwick University Arts Centre

‘Is it inevitable that the university will be reduced to the function of providing, with increasing authoritarian efficiency, pre-packed intellectual commodities which meet the requirements of management? Or can we by our efforts transform it into a centre of free discussion and action, tolerating and even encouraging “subversive” thought and activity, for a dynamic renewal of the whole society within which it operates?’: Warwick University Limited, p. 166.

Warwick University Limited, edited by E. P. Thompson, the great historian of the English working class, and one of Warwick’s leading academics, was published as a Penguin Special in 1970. It followed events that began with a student occupation of the administration building and the discovery that some academic staff and students, in their activity outside the university, had been spied upon by local businesses. Thompson argued that this, and other correspondence discovered there, revealed surprisingly close links to business that compromised the university as an open, academic community. This conference marks the book’s re-publication by Spokesman ( and is an opportunity to commemorate a key moment in the university’s early history and to examine the book’s prescient analysis of the ‘business university’ and its relevance to higher education today.


Morning session: 10 am – 12.30 pm

Chair: Hugo Radice – ¬editor, second edition, Warwick University Ltd; Life Fellow, Leeds University
Student activists from 1970
Judith Condon – writer, editor, educationalist
Ivor Gaber – broadcaster, journalist, Professor of Political Journalism, City University
Julian Harber – botanist, former Workers’ Educational Association tutor-organiser
Barbara Winslow – Professor of Women and Gender Studies, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York
Warwick University staff, 1970
David Epstein FRS – Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, Warwick University
Afternoon session: 2 – 4.30 pm
Chair: Dennis Leech chair – Warwick UCU branch, Professor of Economics, Warwick University
Tom Docherty – Professor of English, Warwick University
Lucy Gill – Post-Graduate Officer, Warwick University Students’ Union
Joanna de Groot, Senior Lecturer, History, York University; UCU executive (personal capacity)
Martin Parker – Professor of Organisation and Culture, Leicester University
Speaker from Defend the Right to Protest (to be confirmed)

For directions and a campus map see here.

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