In February, the Annual Dearing Higher Education Conference 2012 was held at the University of Nottingham entitled The Business and Growth Benefits of Higher Education. At the meeting, the Director-General of the CBI, John Cridland, demanded that business not only co-operate with universities in the setting-up of spin-off companies but also be more closely involved in the actual shaping of university curricula. But should the training of future workers for industry, the city, and the knowledge economy in Britain really be the main preoccupation of higher education? The workshop ‘For a Public University’, recently organised by the local UCU association and supported by the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ), the Centre for Research in Higher, Adult & Vocational Education (HAVE), and the International Political Economy Group (IPEG) was a crucial counterweight to the interests of business on our university campuses. Significantly, it too was held at the University of Nottingham, on June 15, and raised some pressing issues as to whether universities should be generating profits for business or prophets for society.