Higher Education

A Pirate reads Piketty, part 1: Knowledge and Equality

George Walkden's picture

Back in 2014, Thomas Piketty's book Capital in the Twenty-First Century came as close to being a popular sensation as a 700-page economic tome can get, winning acclaim from a variety of sectors and propelling Piketty into the company of well-known "public economists" such as Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman. A little late to the game, I decided to take a look for myself. I felt motivated to write this series of posts because it turns out that core Pirate principles and Piketty's main messages are more closely entwined than one might imagine.

Abolish university tuition fees

Labour introduced them, the Tories and Lib Dems have increased them too.

We will abolish them.

The Case for Open Access.

George Walkden's picture

A large proportion of academic research in the UK is taxpayer-funded. The money comes either via grants from the Research Councils, on which the government spends approximately £3 billion each year, or directly to universities from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), which in 2011-12 distributed £1.6 billion.

The transformative potential of world-class research is pretty clear. In the last few years alone, UK researchers have developed the wonder material graphene and discovered the body of Richard III, among other things. Yet, in a curious and inequitable twist of fate, the results of this research have for the most part never been made available to the taxpayers who funded it.