One Thought To Start Your Day
One of the key accusations about universities and neoliberalism is that the system is too obsessed with competition. On the face of it, this looks like the easiest argument to make about neoliberal universities: neoliberal thought does put a lot of emphasis on competition, and institutions do talk a lot about “competing” for students and staff and governments like the notion that institutions “compete” against one another. Among faculty members, institutions “compete” for research funding; in some countries, they literally compete … [ Read More ]
Yesterday I talked about how the notion of neo-liberal universities was based on four concepts: greater use of market mechanisms, increased use of competitions, the role of performance data and, more broadly, the question of institutional management. Today I’m going to look at the first and maybe more important of those issues: are universities subject to greater market mechanisms now than they were before? Are there universities in other parts of the world which are not subject to the same … [ Read More ]
The term “neoliberal university” gets bandied around a lot. But what does it mean?
Neoliberalism is hard to write about sensibly because there’s a lack of basic agreement about what the term means. This isn’t just about yahoos using “neoliberal” as a synonym for “The Man” or “something I happen to dislike” (though that does happen a lot); even those who want to write about the subject are faced with some real problems in defining it.
The definition of any … [ Read More ]
Yesterday I talked a little bit about how competition, not co-operation, is in Canadian universities’ DNA (east of Manitoba, at any rate). But that has never stopped governments from trying – usually fitfully and half-heartedly – from trying to create more co-ordination within the system. David Cameron, in his 1991 book More Than an Academic Question (still probably best single-volume history of Canadian higher education), analyzed these attempts in some detail. What’s interesting is how things have changed over time.
One obvious … [ Read More ]
In his excellent book about the American higher education system A Perfect Mess, David Labaree makes the following point about how the American university system came to be so hyper-competitive.
Its origins were remarkably humble: a loose assortment of parochial nineteenth-century liberal arts colleges, which emerged in the pursuit of sectarian expansion and civic boosterism more than scholarly distinction. These colleges had no academic credibility, no reliable source of students, and no steady funding. Yet these weaknesses of the American … [ Read More ]