We send our support to all at the University of Amsterdam involved in the occupation of the Maagdenhuis, and current actions taking place demanding greater democratisation of the university. We applaud their brave efforts to challenge the commodification of higher education, at a critical time when corporate agendas are undermining public universities and intellectual integrity around the world.
We are experiencing a neoliberal reduction of knowledge and learning to an increasingly unaffordable consumer good in many countries. This narrow economic logic is resulting in budget cuts to academic departments, support services and other functions central to providing safe and just environments in which to work and learn, as well as significant increases in tuition fees for students. Within cultures of top-down managerialism, consequences include systemic precaritisation of labour at all levels across universities, rising student indebtedness, the proliferation of competition rather than collaboration, and deepening anxiety and other health issues across students and staff.
Thus it is deeply inspiring to see students and staff joining together, to reclaim their own university, and to demand a radical change in the way that research, teaching and higher education learning is funded and organised. Importantly, central to these demands, they are developing exciting new methods of participatory self-governance in the process. Such connections can help us all build relations of solidarity, and produce critical insights that have value beyond the specific struggle from which they have arisen.