an away day in Bedford

2 Oct

Yesterday we held a walkabout-cum-learnathon-cum-exploration-of-space-cum-awayday in Bedford. We were hoping to learn something about unemployability. We learned:

  1. about historically-defined administrative units of wapentake, hundred, shire and county. We learned about their role in feudal enclosure and political control and taxation. And in our wondering why they developed as they did, with different flavours in different spaces/places, we reflected upon their historically-situated and defined emergence, and the historically-situated and defined emergence of new possibilities. Just because it was, doesn’t mean it has to be;
  2. about the role of public schools and rowing clubs and rugby clubs and the aristocracy in the early development of football and the way in which the town provided a space for former colonial administrators, in the history of Bedford. And we learned about the sacking of the town under Henry III and its pivotal medieval role on the River Great Ouse. And we wondered about how that inscribed the place and the space with a particular culture and set of explicit values that denied other histories and possibilities by enclosing and refusing them;
  3. about the ways in which the successful defence of the line in rugby union offers a sense of hope and relief and release through a real-world focus on place and space. And the attritionality and precarity of our actions in the world. And we wondered how that shared engagement in a space, shared for immanent and yet disparate reasons by a crowd, and that co-operative association might enable new forms of production and use to emerge in other spaces. Or we wondered whether there always had to be dominant and dominating rules inscribed and imposed on our land.

And we thought about how walking through a place like Bedford, historically-situated as an amalgam of cultures, reflected by a distinctly conservative culture, might enable us to re-think our solidarity with #occupywallst, and prepare for action ahead of #nov9 and #nov30. And we wonder about this in the real-world, and in face of the proletarianising reality of austerity, and we reflect on the need for direct action, in enabling possibilities for a world of #unemployability that is against capitalist work as the primary organising principle for all our our lives.


be prepared

22 Sep

Whether it’s for the first day at school, the first day of the football season, the first cut (which is the deepest, apparently), or just the first time, Third University wants to help you to be prepared. Not in a Baden Powell, proto-fascist organisation way. Or in a dodgy Aston Villa way. But in a way that helps to keep you safe. Helping you to keep yourself safe. That’s what’s currently exercising us.

So here’s the thing. We want to help you to tell your story, and there are some opportunities coming up for doing just that. Leicester is hosting Local Democracy Week, 12-19 October. John Coster has stated that:

“Now more than ever it’s vital that Leicester people get the chance to speak out and be heard about the issues which matter most to them and we’ve come together to try to create opportunities and provide platforms to make that happen.

“Our message is that if local democracy is to work, everyone’s opinion has to count and everyone has to be encouraged and enabled to express it. We also believe that there is so much we can learn from each other which could make our city a better place for us all.”

We are also aware that in the run-up to national protests on 9 and 30 November, people might be wondering how to use social media to get their ideas and stories across. From inside a protest; or outside a protest; or from a range of coffee shops; or by working with young people, or marginalised people, or unionised people, or officials, or whatever. We also think that we might usefully begin to situate those emerging stories historically. To understand how their own stories are connected to other narrtives and critiques. To understand how to work for change. This might be to connect their November 30th to other historical November 30ths.

To support this process of connecting critiques, we will be supporting two things. These things might be actions or activities or conversations. They will surely be storytelling.

The first will take place during local democracy week, and will be virtual and real. It might take the form of a tweetup or set of SKYPE chats or blog-posts or iPadio broadcasts or something else. They will take place between locations in New York, Ayr and Leicester. They will attempt to create a set of historical narratives about protest.

The second will take place during Community Media Week (2-8 November) and will involve social media training for activists. It will involve discussion about how to keep safe and still tell your story, and how to connect to others telling their story.

There will be no curriculum. Just people with different expertise. And a series of protests. And a desire to support and safe-guard.

On Leicester and its spaces for doing stuff: 9th August (LCB Deport 5pm onwards)

31 Jul

As part of a City Galley exhibition “I will talk with anybody who will talk with me” (A series of performances/installations/conversations, named after this footage from a news piece on the anti-university of London in 1968) The Third University will be doing something in the space (which looks a bit like a den you’d build when you were small) at the front of the LCB Depot on the 9th of August (5pm onwards).

There will be a little bit of learning from Eric Rosoman (the exhibition coordinator) on some of the pieces in the space – followed by hopefully an interesting discussion about the spaces in Leicester for doing stuff. The Third University is aware that although the council have their own managers for arranging and talking about things to do in spaces, much of it is from a top-down, business orientated perspective. This is about reclaiming, re-appropriating and hacking the city. It would be nice if we could talk about what we might do in the autumn term. You have an idea, a thing that you are good at or something that we should be teaching, we would like to help you find things to learn, but also have a place and a space to do it- even if it is or never needs to be permanent. This is what this discussion/talky thing will be about.

The lesson will follow after by a trip to the pub. There will be more details about logistics later – but please do keep the 9th of August open- and let us know if you’ll be there. Either on twitter -or leave a comment here.

Exciting New Opportunity: Third University Business Development Manager

19 Jul

Reference Number: Third-BDM

Job Description

Third University is a dynamic ideas-factory, which is seeking to exploit the intellectual capital of its participants as it prepares them for an austere life on benefits. We believe that everyone has an equal right to unemployability and we will do everything in our power to make everyone unemployable. We started in 2010 in a back-street boozer in Leicester, and are now looking to optimise our de-growth potential through this key post of Business Development Manager in our Hollywood (Birmingham) branch. We offer a monumental non-entrepreneurial opportunity, letting you use your unemployability skill-set to grow your own austerity-driven client base by selling consulting services and non-staffing/de-skilling solutions to anyone, anywhere, anytime.


  1. Must have previous experience selling successful staff de-augmentation solutions, or relevant HR experience as appropriate.
  2. Must have a minimum of 5-10 years of prior experience working on unemployment projects.
  3. Must have prior experience with unemployability to a high level, preferably with FTSE100 companies.
  4. Must be able to meet a quota of 1-10 units [humans] made unemployable per annum.
  5. Must be energetic, have a positive attitude towards unemployability, and be able to define #coffeelols
  6. Must love to work collaboratively to enforce austerity.
  7. Must have excellent written and oral communication skills when making people unemployable. Persuasion and negotiation skills are critical.
  8. Must be able to bullshit. First impressions are critical to unemployability.
  9. Must have a degree in Business, or equivalent croquet experience, with a focus on marketing unemployability.
  10. Must be committed to equality in the face of austerity.


  1. Work off of a target list of companies that are in Third University database and to develop new unemployability opportunities.
  2. Identify key decision makers in companies, in order to establish professional relations and de-grow business.
  3. Identify market de-growth potential through the *science* of divination, otherwise known as economics.
  4. Close unemployability sales by building rapport with potential clients, through key contacts hiring managers.
  5. Explaining service capabilities and preparing contracts ready for austerity and unemployability.
  6. Negotiate contract rates with clients, with a focus on company unprofitability goals and objectives.
  7. Recommend our other unemployability services and consultants to *help* meet clients’ needs
  8. Forecast Monthly Unemployability Goals, build a great pipeline [WTF?] and measure prioritised business results.
  9. Attend unemployment networking events to build clientele relations and community support.
  10. Manage unemployability consultants on client sites to ensure unemployability performance is above satisfaction.

Check our Customer Charter to learn more about us.

NOTE: we pay an excellent base salary of nothing, with no commission, zero bonus, absolutely no profit-sharing, with nil paid vacation, and other great benefits.

Unemployability Skills Framework: Skills for living in the end times.

18 Jul

Everything you do is about skills (apparently) – you might have some, you might have none, you might have them all and you are squirreling away for a rainy day. Skills are important – because they allow for you to put yourself into a tidy table diagram and helps you work out where it might of all went wrong. These skills, if used correctly, can keep you employable – which can keep you productive, can keep your head above the water, can keep you in the system. The nice warm system.

The third university likes skills so much that it wants to give them out in tiny little parcels to all of those who enter. The third university’s skills are not ones of employability, oh no, they are ones of unemployability – because, to be honest, can it possibly get any worse?

Developing Your UnEmployability Skills 

Survival Skills  Thinking Skills Dancing Skills Dress Sense Skills
Growing stuff

Able to learn how to grow stuff, share stuff, cook stuff and eat stuff.

Being yourself

You cannot be anyone else apart from yourself. The third university loves you just the way you are.

Shuffle Dressing for the Season

Don’t forget a coat.


Can you remember how you arranged to meet somebody before the internet? 2pm at the park, this Saturday, bring a carrot cake.


Reading stuff

Read lots, share lots and pass it on.

Wave your hands Keep your trousers on

It’s for your benefit, not for the benefit of your employer. They don’t really care.

Brewing stuff

Hops and Barley 101

Writing stuff

You don’t even need to write it for us. Do it for you.

Robot Hats are ok


 Getting from A to B

Probably quite good to learn how to read a map again.


Talking about stuff

Preferable over some cake. We love listening to people who love the stuff they do.

Nod your head
All of the above

Over and over again.

Tables can always be exhaustive so what are your top unemployability skills? Answers below…

An alternative to an alternative to an alternative to an alternative to an alternative…

11 Jul

The Third University would like to offer an alternative to the alternative higher education white paper presented by the campaign for the public university and associated campaign groups from University of Warwick, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University of Sussex. The third university recognises that the propose a white-paper, a bluepaper, a redpaper is to propose that there is a viable solution. That some individuals and some groups can provide solace for the rest of us. That there is a blueprint that will solve the issues within education (and society in general) through a set of step-by-step rules. We must be careful that we don’t run the risk of claiming ownership of ideas that might protect some but reject others. Similarly, by acknowledging the system of governance that already and has always dominated higher education (the fact that collectively we can refer to a notion of a ‘higher’ education, for instance)- and to defend aspects of a system that in its current guise, whatever that system might be is problematic.

The Third University likes Glenn Rikowski, because he has written about an education that is ‘in against and beyond’ capitalist education, and does not try to provide a white paper that we might all follow, but instead focuses on the social form of education and how it could be given the chance to develop over time. The thing is, there is no solutions, there is no end point. We are all part of an infinite processes (to form a society of human connections – to create value, social-labour power) – and at some key points we might learn something about ourselves and about each other. Those things might transform us to think differently – but it is hard when there are social structures in place to influence the importance of individual’s ideas and to allow us to compete/battle our ideas as a dominant mechanism of learning and sharing.

But we can’t govern that learning. We can’t govern those stories. We can’t force nor convince you to be part of the third university and we can’t promise that we will accomodate your ideas. You can only accomodate your own. And the third university might be the space to do that. And it might not. Create your own spaces and use each others. Or not.

Croquet, political struggle and smashing of the spectacle.

1 Jul

When Guy Debord devised the game of war, he spoke of a board game that he created in order to demonstrate the power struggles and where players learn about the critical decisions made between two competing factions. There is no dice, there is no luck, just the pieces upon the board. The learning process, being able to understand construction of the spectacle, happened whilst the game was being played.

All games are political. All competition is ruthless. It is about expressing your desire to be better than somebody else, wiping out your component. But to play a game, the process, not the end point, is a learning experience. There are no games more political than the game of croquet. Designed as a past-time for those who had the luxury and the space to potter around with mallets and balls, a symbol of power through leisure. The rules, deliberately complicating the act of hitting a ball through a hoop, designed to encourage tactical game play on the premise that the player can actually hit the ball. Croquet is not for you. It is for them.

It is important to consider why a university might want to revive such a tradition, using it a calculated device to encourage better usage of their oldest grounds – a nod to the political struggle, where it was those of a deliberate quality who were allowed to, encourage to tread upon the hallowed grounds in the name of sportsmanship. Is this the opening up of the sport? An act that allows us to participate in the process- a chance to claim leisure as equals? Or is croquet 2.0 yet another spectacle? A space, that’s ironic, that’s a ‘bit of fun’- so when you lose – to remind you of your real position within their hierarchy.

The easiest option, of course, would be not to play. Not playing would mean that you could remove yourself from the competition before it had even begun. What that doesn’t allow is the ability to acknowledge that croquet is happening and will happen if you are there or not. Discontent will not be represented on the lawn. On the other hand, they’ll be those who decide to play for fun, to enjoy the spectacle – and encourage that we do not ruin it for those who have chosen to participate. They will feel privileged to be allowed access, to the tools of the trade – and to the place of reckoning. They will participate for the joy of taking part, not for winning – and they will not matter if they are knocked out in the first round. It’s unsportsmanlike to show emotion about the frivolities of croquet.

Then there are the teams with a story, a coherent (but concise) narrative – a lovely tale of overcoming adversity in the name of croquet. This is what croquet 2.0 is all about. These would the desirable groups as they serve two purposes. The first shows that perhaps croquet is not the elite sport it once was, but a genuinely heartwarming and life-changing experience for those involved. The second, and the most important, is the content that those groups could provide in other contexts of the university. With the right look, the right twist, you have an alumni centrespread.

And then there is us. What are we? Why did the third university decide to take up croquet?

Because we wanted to learn something.