Transforming the University: Beyond Students and Cuts


  • Andre Pusey School of Geography University of Leeds
  • Leon Sealey-Huggins School of Sociology and Social Policy University of Leeds


Activism, higher education, academia, Really Open University, reactive politics, future of education, transformation, resistance, university


Much has been made of the recent upsurge in activism around higher education and universities over the past two years or so in the UK and globally. Reflecting on our involvement with a group called the Really Open University (ROU) in Leeds, in this article we seek to broaden the discussion of the ‘student movement’ to consider some of the tensions that exist between mainstream analyses of the student movement and those analyses which acknowledge the problems with trying merely to defend the university in its current form. We outline some of the emerging links between groups which seek to move beyond a narrow, reactive politics of ‘anti-cuts’ by challenging the forms and futures of education. The tensions of trying to be at once ‘in-against-and-beyond’ the institutions we are involved with are considered, and it is our conclusion that within the ROU’s ‘Strike/Occupy/Transform’ motif it is the notion of transformation, accompanied by the necessary resistance, which offers the most hope for the future of education.


How to Cite

Pusey, A., & Sealey-Huggins, L. (2015). Transforming the University: Beyond Students and Cuts. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 12(3), 443–458. Retrieved from