This special issue focuses on universities run by and for the benefit of students,
academics and the public. Three contributions cover existing initiatives
from ‘free’ universities and other long-established institutions that are
fee-free and where students and faculty are central to their operations and
governance.1 Other contributions focus on using tried and tested participatory
organisational structures to create alternatives to the deteriorating state
of universities: one sets out ways universities could be run by ‘beneficial
owners’; the other reports on a project to design cooperative universities.