Save Ruskin’s BA and MA Courses

Below is the text of a letter which we are going to send to the Guardian for publication. If you would like to be a signatory to this letter, please leave your name and title/position in the ‘Leave A Reply’ section below. Please also feel free to distribute this further amongst your union branches and networks.

Thank you for your support and solidarity.

As academics, working-class educationalists, labour movement practitioners, politicians, and alumni, we are shocked and angered by the decision taken by Ruskin College, Oxford to effectively close the International Labour and Trade Union Studies BA and MA courses by making all academic staff in this department redundant. The decision removes from the UK the only remaining institution providing labour and trade union studies.

Ruskin College was established in 1899 to provide education to working class people who couldn’t have otherwise gone to university, and since then the institution has contributed enormously to both the advancement of working-class lives, and the understanding and development of the labour movement.

In the context of the rise in precarious forms of work, further legislative attacks on trade unions, and attacks on higher education more broadly, it is imperative that we have a labour movement that can preserve and learn from our history and develop informed strategy on how to counter this onslaught. Ruskin College has a unique and integral role in doing this.

We therefore call on Ruskin College’s management to reverse this decision and ensure that an independent, radical, critical labour movement education is available for future generations.


1,057 thoughts on “Save Ruskin’s BA and MA Courses

    1. Labor Studies ourses must be saved at Ruskin College, Oxford. I would be glad to help develop online Labor Studies courses to expand college revenue. Working class students need online Labor Studies courses focusing on legal criticism and radical activism.

      Dr. Reid Friedson
      Professor & Consultant

      Cornell University Worker Institute (USA)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. As a former student of Ruskin I am bound to say that Ruskin represents a unique example of an institution founded and funded by the British labour movement that has made such a huge difference to the lives of many least privileged in our society. It is a dreadful retrograde step and must be reversed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The administration of Universities should not be seen solely as business ventures. The Unique courses offered by Specialised institutions of training are the Hallmark of Great Institutions of Learning. Bringing an end to this tradition in a period where labour training is more needed than ever before can only be of great concern to all well wishers. We urge the Management to reconsider their decision.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John Ruskin would not have wanted the college to close especially at a time when the Right is in the ascendency across the world.


  4. Prof. Stefan Berger, Director, Institute for Social Movements, Ruhr University Bochum, Clemensstr. 17 – 19, 44789 Bochum, Germany


  5. I am trying to get my union to agree to a bursary for these courses. If these closures go ahead, when are they likely to happen as Ruskin College website is still offering enrolment for 2017/2018?

    There seems to be very little information available online regarding these closures, nobody in my union was aware. If it hasn’t already been done, is it worth writing to the unions for their support and to get the word out. It would be tragic to lose such a valuable resource.


  6. Sagarika, student (MA Development and Labour Studies, Centre for Informal Sector and Labour Studies), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.


  7. I am a former student of Ruskin College, it is a unique place to study.It was due to studying here that I become involved in politics and learned that politics affects us all. At a time where workers rights are coming under attack we need these course.


  8. Neil Dyson

    I am a former ILTUS BA student and am shocked and saddened by this decision. More investment is needed in empowering workers to challenge and bring about positive change to the global workforce. This is achieved by running courses like the BA & MA courses. The tutors are amazing and the whole ethos and philosophy of Ruskin lends itself to being a world class place of learning. Please reverse this narrow minded decsion!!!!


  9. Education should be available to all, no matter what your background is or your political views are. The political debate is constantly being stifled by those in power so I would hope that Ruskin reverses its decision to end these courses. Otherwise, where will it all end.


  10. At the very point in time when we need more trade unionists armed with strong and articulate arguments, I am appalled to read about this.
    Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, Convenor of the Green Group of Councillors, Brighton and Hove City Council


  11. A bastion of education for trade unionists. I have had the pleasure of studying there. This place must be saved.


  12. As an ex ILTUS student I have been unbelievably proud to have been part of a truly unique college. Ruskin’s labour movement courses have inspired some of the bravest international union activists that I have had the privilege to meet. To stop running these courses would be to destroy the core principles that Ruskin has been founded on and will rob labour activists globally of opportunities to enthuse, inspire and learn from each other This is unbelievably sad news both personally and for the collective.


  13. Stacey Green, Children and Families Social Worker (this title was a lifelong dream, achieved with huge thanks to Ruskin College)


  14. Terrible news. Hopefully, following on from the travesty with the destruction of archives, people will step in.

    Secretary, Brent Unite Community


  15. Ruskin has given me opportunity in life…therefore has also given my children a better future. This is very sad news, I support Ruskin and the great work they do !!


  16. This is an extremely bad development and definitely detrimental to a progressive educational institution with foundations in aiding working class, poor and underprivileged people into higher, adult education who would not necessarily have done so without Colleges & Full Time Education Institutions such as Ruskin College.

    It is also commendable that the education facilities at this college are suited towards people with dyslexia and other SEN, not to mention mental health issues, disabled people and making and effort to facilitate people with such issues to their full extent: This incorporating and being a full part of Labour & Trade Union Movement !

    One issue that needs to be addressed however is the strategies policies and decisions made by staff, employees; specifically lecturers and teaching staff at Ruskin, with regards to involvement with Trade Unions.
    Lecturers and Teaching staff affiliated to UCU made a decision to set up their own branch at Ruskin College separate from the rest of Oxford ! Many people have commented on decisions made by Ruskin UCU on redundancies & staff cut backs and not pushing for Higher Education funding that could possibly prevented the cut backs that have led to the cancelling of these Trade Union Courses, agreeing apparently that these courses can only be run again, if and when they are ‘economically viable’. Perhaps if UCU at Ruskin had stayed within the main branch more could have been done, if not to thwart these cut backs but at least to put up a serious opposition to it. Perhaps acting in this opportunistic manner, having token industrial actions but not dealing with nitty gritty issues could be part of the problem and why it was opportunistically decided by elements at Ruskin to have a separate branch !

    Of course this is only dealing with the symptoms of the problems and culture at Ruskin College and until it becomes again an indicative part of the body of Labour & Trade Union movement, funded and supported so then the situation will just degenerate from worse to worse; possibly just being an annexe for Brookes University for subjects that are seen viable in the ever growing marketisation of higher education, if not education as a whole.


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