Audit of the Living Dead

Posted: September 21, 2010 in Academy, Brains

Audit culture and Illiberal governance:

“What we have witnessed here is the transformation of the traditional liberal and Enlightenment idea of the university as a place of higher learning into the modern idea of the university as corporate enterprise whose primary concern is with market share, servicing the needs of commerce, maximizing economic return and investment, and gaining competitive advantage in the ‘Global Knowledge Economy’. Several factors are driving this process: the cost-cutting fiscal regime of ‘economic rationalism’ in which government funding for universities has been steadily eroded; the move from ‘elite’ to ‘mass’ university education, which has brought many more students with no comparable increase in permanent staff numbers; and the trend towards universities increasingly operating like private businesses, accompanied by the emergence of higher education as a significant export industry. Audits, performance indicators, competitive benchmarking exercises, league tables, management by targets, and punitive research assessment exercises and periodic teaching quality reviews are the technologies that have been used to spread new public management methods into the governance of universities – and all at a time when overall government funding for universities and per student has declined” (Shore 2008: 282).

But wait, there’s more:

“audit has a life of its own – a runaway character – that cannot be controlled. Once introduced into a new setting or context, it actively constructs (or colonizes) that environment in order to render it auditable. The effects are irreversible” (Shore 2008: 292).

The zombie process populates the world in its own image.

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