Resources for Co-operative Higher Education

Practical support

If you want to start a co-operative in the UK, there are local Co-operative Development Agencies, co-operative consultancies, and Co-operatives UK. A co-operative university requires expertise from specialists both in co-operatives and in higher education. The Co-operative College is the leading organisation for co-operative education  in England. There is also the Welsh Co-operative Centre and the Co-operative Education Trust Scotland.

Scholarship and research

The bibliography for co-operative higher education includes a growing list of publications as well as links to existing higher education co-operatives and key publications on co-operative schools.

The UK Society for Co-operative Studies (UKSCS) is the scholarly society for co-operative research in the UK and publishes a peer-reviewed journal three times a year, as well as holding a conference in the Autumn.

The International Co-operative Alliance (the worldwide movement’s co-ordinating body) hosts a Committee on Co-operative Research (CCR), which acts as ‘a bridge between academic research and the co-operative world.’

The CCR also maintains  a directory of co-operative research centres around the world. Many are based in universities that run programmes of related study.

The Co-operative College (UK)  hosts a research network for co-operative education with over 100 members.

A mailing list for co-operative higher education was set up in 2015 as part of a funded project and continues to be a way for people to inform and discuss related issues. is a US-based library of information about co-operatives.

Co-operative leadership programmes

Research undertaken in 2014 at St Mary’s University, Canada, found 15 post-graduate programmes of Co-operative Business Education (CBE) in 10 countries. Such programmes typically include courses on co-operative leadership, governance and management. A key finding of the research was that “the areas of co-operative management practice where CBE graduates have the greatest impact are governance, strategic thinking and planning and member engagement”.   The report compares the features of all of the CBE programmes and acknowledges that many more complementary programmes of study also exist outside of universities. Download the report.

Since the report, the International Co-operative Business Education Consortium (ICBEC) has been established.

In the UK, the Co-operative College and Manchester Metropolitan University jointly run an MA in Educational Leadership and Management aimed at co-operative school leaders.

Beyond Public and Private: A Framework for Co-operative Higher Education

Framework for Co-operative Higher Education (click to enlarge)

Mike Neary and Joss Winn have a new journal article out in the Open Library of the Humanities. It is a longer companion piece to their article in LATISS. The original research was funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation and is now being further developed by funding from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, where the framework is being explored in the context of four case studies. 

Here’s the abstract:

Universities in the UK are increasingly adopting corporate governance structures, a consumerist model of teaching and learning, and have the most expensive tuition fees in the world (McGettigan, 2013; OECD, 2015). This paper discusses collaborative research that aimed to develop and define a conceptual framework of knowledge production grounded in co-operative values and principles. The main findings are outlined relating to the key themes of our research: knowledge, democracy, bureaucracy, livelihood, and solidarity. We consider how these five ‘catalytic principles’ relate to three identified routes to co-operative higher education (conversion, dissolution, or creation) and argue that such work must be grounded in an adequate critique of labour and property i.e. the capital relation. We identify both the possible opportunities that the latest higher education reform in the UK affords the co-operative movement as well as the issues that arise from a more marketised and financialised approach to the production of knowledge (HEFCE, 2015). Finally, we suggest ways that the co-operative movement might respond with democratic alternatives that go beyond the distinction of public and private education.

Read the article online or download from OLH.

Making the Co-operative University conference

The Co-operative University Working Group are hosting a conference in Manchester on 9th November to focus on ‘making the co-operative university: new places, spaces and models of higher education‘.

The aim of the day is to network with like-minded and interested individuals and organisations through active learning and discussion.

It is a one day conference which will take place at Federation House in Manchester on 9th November 2017 with tickets priced at £95 (inc VAT). More details will be published on the Co-operative College’s website soon.

Join us and share your thoughts on what a Co-operative University should look like!

Co-operative Higher Education and Co-operative University Survey

The Co-operative College in Manchester has responded to the Higher Education and Research Act (2017) by forming a Co-operative University Working Group (CUWG) consisting of co-operative educators, academics and other stakeholders. Prof. Mike Neary and Dr. Joss Winn from the University of Lincoln were invited to be members of the CUWG. The College already delivers higher education with a number of partners but the Act offers an opportunity to explore the creation of a Co-operative University in the UK.

A survey has been created as part of a consultancy report A Feasibility Study to Acquire Degree-Awarding Powers conducted for the Co-operative College. The purpose of this survey is to identify demand for co-operative higher education and for a dedicated Co-operative University in the UK.

The survey takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete. Participants who choose to leave their e-mail will enter a draw for a free ticket for one person to the Co-operative Education and Research Conference 2018.

Please complete this survey by 6th August 2017

Information Sheet

Survey on the demand for co-operative higher education and a Co-operative University in the UK 

The Co-operative College in Manchester has responded to the recent Higher Education Research Act (2017) by forming a Co-operative University Working Group (CUWG) consisting of co-operative educators, academics and other stakeholders. The College already delivers higher education with a number of partners but the Act offers an opportunity to explore the creation of a Co-operative University in the UK.

The recent Higher Education and Research Act encourages the formation of ‘challenger’ institutions to the existing University system. As when Academisation Policy resulted in the development of co-operative schools, we believe that there is fertile ground for the growth of co-operative alternatives to the private higher education institutions that are likely to develop following the implementation of the Act.

The CUWG will report back to the College’s Board of Governors in autumn 2017. Our Terms of Reference can be found on:

The broad purpose of the group is to take a twin track approach to exploring

  • a federated co-operative university model;
  • how the Co-operative College will work towards acquiring degree awarding powers as a secondary co-operative.

We will consider issues such as co-operative governance, co-operative pedagogies, co-operative solutions for student funding. A fundamental focus is on innovative high quality higher education to build co-operative futures.

The purpose of this survey is to identify demand for co-operative higher education or a dedicated Co-operative University in the UK. This survey has been created as part of the consultancy report ‘A Feasibility Study to Acquire Degree Awarding Powers’ conducted for the Co-operative College in Manchester by Eduardo Ramos. Eduardo can be reached at

Invitation to Workshop on Co-operative Leadership

All academic and professional services staff and students are invited to a workshop on co-operative leadership in higher education on Thursday 25th May, 10-12pm, UL111 (University Library, 1st floor).

In this project, we are exploring the extent to which co-operative leadership and other co-operative practices are present in higher education institutions. The purpose of the research is to develop a qualitative self-evaluation tool that university staff and students can use to enhance and develop co-operative leadership and other co-operative practices in their workplaces and in other aspects of student life.

Over the past year, we have been developing our work through group discussions and interviews with people involved with the co-operative movement. This work has been substantiated with case study research in a co-operative school, an employee-owned high street retailer, a large grocery worker co-operative and a co-operative university in Spain

We have identified a number of core principles which appear to underpin co-operative leadership and other co-operative practices:

  • Knowledge – the production of knowledge and meaning by the organisation as a whole
  • Democracy – the levels of influence on decision making
  • Bureaucracy – not only administration but a set of ethical and moral principles on which administration is based
  • Livelihood – working practices that support the capacity to lead a good life
  • Solidarity – sharing a commitment to a common purpose inside and outside of the institution

The research from which these principles have been identified will be presented at the workshop.

You will have the chance to discuss the extent to which these core principles are present within your own working and learning and teaching environments. We will all then spend time designing a self evaluation tool by which these core principles might be recognised within our own and other higher education institutions.

This self evaluation tool can be seen as an alternative to the metrics and measures approach based on  positive methodologies and methods that are currently imposed on universities by the government.  The self evaluation tool that we are designing implies a more qualitative, humanist, critical-practical reflexive approach to evaluating and valuing the work that we do.