Neoliberalism in British Academia?

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 2/18/2007 06:01:00 PM
I have a secondary interest in the workings of academia. Therefore, I was interested in what David Harvie of Leicester University had to say about neoliberalism in higher education. Harvie adopts a critical perspective and argues that research-assessment exercises are changing the academic paradigm into a less collegial, competition-driven one. Further, this kind of "ownership" might prevent collaborative work in the future among various institutions.

In this matter, I am more sympathetic to reforms in British higher education that move it in the direction of the American model. British universities rely on government funding to a greater extent than do American ones. As scholars give lip service to the notion of academic independence, funding sought from non-government sources such as through building endowments helps move British academia in this direction. UK government finances are hardly in the best shape, either. Thus, the RAE and its like help determine where national research funds should go. It's nothing sinister. Importantly, the market for instructors and students is now an international one. Though there are pockets of immobility, British higher education supply and demand will likely come to reflect more international factors. The University of Nottingham, for instance, has already opened a campus in China. Benchmarking performance will be key in determining the standard of British higher education. Do well and the funding should follow. Make no mistake: Ivory towers come at a price.