This report provides an interim account of a participatory action
research project undertaken during 2015–16. The research brought
together scholars, students and expert members of the co-operative
movement to design a theoretically informed and practically grounded
framework for co-operative higher education that activists, educators
and the co-operative movement could take forward into implementation.
Our dual roles in the research were as founding members of
the Social Science Centre, Lincoln, an autonomous co-operative for
higher education constituted in 2011 (Social Science Centre 2013), and
as professional researchers working at the University of Lincoln. The
immediate context for the research was, and remains, the ‘assault’
on universities in the U.K. (Bailey and Freedman 2011), the ‘gamble’
being taken with the future of higher education (McGettigan 2013),
and the ‘pedagogy of debt’ (Williams 2006) that has been imposed
through the removal of public funding of teaching and the concurrent
tripling of tuition fees (Sutton Trust 2016).