Who are universities for? argues for a large-scale shake up of how we organise higher education, how we combine it with work, and how it fits into our lives. It includes radical proposals for reform of the curriculum and how we admit students to higher education. It offers a way forward for universities to become more inclusive and more responsive to local and global challenges.

Who are universities for? is published by Bristol University Press.

Urgent, radical and prescriptive […] it breaks open the sterile complacency that has for too long gone unchallenged.

David Lammy, MP

This powerful, accessible and passionate book highlights the way current HE excludes and disadvantages, and proposes an inclusive system design fit for part-time as well as full-time study. Fascinating and persuasive.

Professor Sir Alan Tuckett, University of Wolverhampton

About the authors

Tom Sperlinger is Professor of Literature and Engaged Pedagogy at the University of Bristol, where he is currently working with the Widening Participation team to introduce flexible opportunities for adult learners across the arts, sciences and social sciences. He set up the part-time BA in English Literature and Community Engagement and the Foundation Year in Arts and Humanities.

Josie McLellan is Professor of History at the University of Bristol. She is a social and cultural historian, with particular research interests in public history and the co-production of research with people outside the university. She was a course director for the Foundation Year in Arts and Humanities, from when the programme started in 2013 to 2017.

Richard Pettigrew is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bristol, with particular interests in the theory of uncertainty and decision-making. He set up the Foundation Year in Arts and Humanities. He has worked, outside the university, on projects addressing literacy in prisons and supporting adults with learning disabilities.


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