Archive for the ‘Readings’ Category
Tags: haunting, highered, highereducation, phenomenology
Tags: cash rules everything around me, limits to marketization
Notionally, regulation could level the playing field for NLMM [the neoliberal market model] commercial competition by flattening status differences and breaking open the elite institutions. Government could build research capacity in lower status institutions, level down the peaks and/or create new research universities. It could override merit (and hence elite closure) in student selection by opening or expanding enrolments in elite institutions and then step back to watch the market work. But, this would undermine not only the logic of status competition but also high status producers and consumers themselves. This is politically risky for states. Anyway, a levelled commercial competition would not repress status for long. Competition would re-stratify the system by magnifying small differences in research and social participation over time. Narrow status differentials are sustained only in systems where higher education is governed largely as a non-competitive public good and is provided at uniformly high quality levels, as in the Nordic countries. It is possible to have low status differentials or market competition, but not both.
Government cannot abstain on public goods, though it quibbles over funding them. It needs productivity spillovers, scientific and cultural literacy, technological capacity and industry innovation; and social equity policy is politically essential. ‘The distribution of opportunities for post-secondary instruction is a ubiquitous concern in modern societies, and hence invites a large degree of central coordination’ (Geiger 2004, 162) and funding. Nations vary in how their political cultures define ‘equity’ in higher education – for example in post-Confucian societies, with their deep family commitment to self-cultivation and social positioning through learning, social equity is compatible with high household investment – but all such systems are headed by public research universities, including South Korea.
Governments also use higher education policy to build their own political capital, by making the gift of educational opportunity more visible or by fostering science to brighten their modernist image. To secure these political benefits, governments must be able to intervene in the system settings and fine-tune strategic outputs: ‘Markets by design’ are more amenable to these political agendas than markets of ‘spontaneous interaction’ (Niklasson 1996, 8). Genuine NLMM deregulation would mean setting these political options aside. It does not happen.
In other words, governments investing in the neo-liberal imaginary also have other ends. NLMM visions in higher education slide back to an NPM control and allocation regime, articulated through ‘quasi-markets’ (Niklasson 1996; Dill 1997 and others) in which the policy and organisational cultures are market-friendly but the system drivers remain regulated. As Naidoo (2008, 3) sees it, market mechanisms are applied selectively, ‘to further the state’s agenda for change … the state can actively mobilise market mechanisms to attain political goals’. For example, governments deploy competition to expose weak institutions and drive mergers, while evading responsibility for potentially unpopular outcomes. User charges and devolution to institutional entrepreneurs enable fiscal allocations to be cut. Output formats and targets bring with them direct control over products and local priorities. Competition for funding secures predictable outcomes, without the state being seen to service its favourites. Regulated quasi-markets also enable one-way accountability to governments at system centre and managers at the institution centre (Porter 2008) more closely than to consumers. Devolved systems that are premised on self-managing agents generate less resistance than command. Governments employ competition as divide and rule, enhancing their residual authority.
All of this suggests that the intended outcomes are political rather than economic. To build a genuine NLMM in higher education would be to block the flow of these political benefits.
In economic and political terms, our funding and public validation come from being seen to hit targets set by increasingly detailed performance indicators. These criteria include the assessment of the frequency, volume and influence of our publications as well as our universities’ international standing and where we sit in national league tables. There is, furthermore, in the shape of the impact agenda, an intensifying officially policed obligation to help public agencies, commerce, business and industry, and also voluntary and charitable bodies, to operate knowledgeably in a democratic society … this is a necessity-driven, demand-led model. Ideal-typically, you produce research and engage in knowledge exchange in line with what is requested in order to justify your existence. Public intellectuality, therefore, is wanted but only on certain, quite instrumental, terms.
Suzanne Ryan’s ‘Academic zombies’ in the current edition of Australian Universities’ Review.
‘Strangler Figs’ or ‘Moreton Bay Figs’, also called banyan trees, have evolved a most interesting innovation to deal with the ferocious competition for light in the rainforest. Fig seeds are dropped by animals or birds in the canopy, which gives the fig an immediate head start on the competition. The fig then grows as an epiphyte in crooks of the upper branches of its host, and sends thin ariel ‘strangler’ roots down to the ground. On reaching the earth these roots take hold and begin competing aggressively with the host for sustenance. The roots also establish an interconnected underground network, thereby further depriving the host of resources and restricting the growth of its trunk. At the same time, in the canopy, the Strangler puts out lots of large leaves (the binomial name for the Strangler is ficus macrophylla – ‘large leaf’) blocking the host’s access to sunlight. Over time the Strangler Fig thus completely encircles and then slowly kills the host tree, through a combination of deprivation of sunlight and nutrients, root competition, and throttling. The Strangler Fig generally thrives on older host trees that are already past their prime; these decay and release nutrients into the earth, used by the Strangler Fig and other plants and animals in the area. Eventually the fig is ‘columnar’: a full-grown tree with a completely hollow core, where the original host tree used to be.
To learn more about the life-cycle of this fascinating species, try:
Avis, J. (2003), ‘Re-thinking trust in a performative culture: the case of education’, Journal of Education Policy, 18: 3, pp. 315-332.
Ball, S. (2004), ‘Performativities and fabrications in the education economy: towards the performative society’, in S. Ball (ed.), The RoutledgeFalmer Reader in Sociology of Education, London: RoutledgeFalmer, pp. 143-155.
Boden, R. and Epstein, D. (2011) ‘A flat earth society? Imagining academic freedom’, The Sociological Review, 59: 3, pp. 476-495.
Bruno, I. and Newfield, C. (2010), ‘Can the Cognitariat Speak?’, e-flux journal, 14, http://www.e-flux.com/journal/can-the-cognitariat-speak/.
Collini, S. (2003), ‘HiEdBiz: The Future of Higher Education’, London Review of Books, 25: 21, pp. 3-9, http://www.lrb.co.uk/v25/n21/stefan-collini/hiedbiz.
Darbyshire, P. (2008), ‘“Never mind the quality, feel the width”: The nonsense of “quality”, “excellence”, and “audit” in education, health and research’, Collegian, 15: 1, pp. 35-41.
Donoghue, F. (2008), The Last Professors: The Twilight of the Humanities in the Corporate University, New York: Fordham University Press.
Evans, M. (2004), Killing Thinking: The Death of the Universities, London: Continuum.
Gill, R. (2009). ‘Breaking the silence: The hidden injuries of neo-liberal academia’, in R. Flood and R. Gill (eds.), Secrecy and Silence in the Research Process: Feminist Reflections, London: Routledge, http://www.kcl.ac.uk/artshums/depts/cmci/people/papers/gill/silence.pdf.
Gombrich, R.F. (2000), ‘British Higher Education Policy in the last Twenty Years: The Murder of a Profession’, Tokyo University Graduate Institute of Policy Studies, http://www.atm.damtp.cam.ac.uk/people/mem/papers/LHCE/uk-higher-education.html.
Graham, G. (2002), Universities: The Recovery of an Idea, Charlottesville: Imprint Academic.
Graves, N., Barnett, A., and Clarke, P. (2011), ‘Funding grant proposals for scientific research: retrospective analysis of scores by members of grant review panel’, British Medical Journal, 343: d4797.
Knouf, N. (2010), ‘Whither the Libidinal University?’, Canadian Journal of Media Studies, 7: 1, http://cjms.fims.uwo.ca/issues/07-01/WhitherTheLibidinalUniversityRevised20100524.pdf.
Naidoo, R. and Jamieson, I. (2005), ‘Empowering Participants or Corroding Learning? Towards a research agenda on the impact of student consumerism in higher education’, Journal of Education Policy, 20: 3, pp. 267-281.
Newfield, C. (2008), Unmaking the Public University: the Forty-Year Assault on the Middle Class, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Radice, H. (2008), ‘Life after death? The Soviet system in British higher education’, International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, 3: 2, pp. 99-120.
Redden, G. (2008), ‘Publish and Flourish, or Perish: RAE, ERA, RQF, and Other Acronyms for Infinite Human Resourcefulness’, M/C Journal, 11: 4, http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/viewArticle/44.
Reid, I. (2009),‘The contradictory managerialism of university quality assurance’, Journal of Education Policy, 24: 5, pp. 575-593.
Ryan, S., Guthrie, J. and Neumann, R. (2008), ‘The Case of Australian Higher Education: Performance, Markets and Government Control’, in C. Mazza, P. Quattrone and A. Riccaboni (eds.), European Universities in Transition: Issues, Models and Cases, London: Edward Elgar, pp. 171-187.
Shore, C. (2008), ‘Audit culture and Illiberal Governance: Universities and the Politics of Accountability’, Anthropological Theory, 8: 3, pp. 278-299.
Shore, C. (2010), ‘Beyond the multiversity: neoliberalism and the rise of the schizophrenic university’, Social anthropology/Anthropologie sociale, 18: 1, pp. 15-29.
Shore, C. and Wright, S. (1999), ‘Audit culture and anthropology: neo-liberalism in British higher education’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 5: 4, pp. 557-573.
Sousa, C., de Nijs, W., and Hendriks, P. (2010), ‘Secrets of the beehive: Performance management in university research organizations’, Human Relations 63: 9, pp. 1439-1460.
Strathern, M. (2000), ‘The Tyranny of Transparency’, British Educational Research Journal, 26: 3, pp. 309-321.
Vidovich, L. and Currie, J. (2011), ‘Governance and trust in higher education’, Studies in Higher Education, 36: 1, pp. 43-56.
Winter, R. (1995), ‘The University of Life plc: the “Industrialisation” of Higher Education’, in J. Smyth (ed.), Academic Work: The Changing Labour Process in Higher Education, Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press, pp. 129-143.
Wood, F. (2010), ‘Occult innovations in higher education: corporate magic and the mysteries of managerialism’, Prometheus, 28: 3, pp. 227-244.