Neoliberalisation of the university and academic work
Chapter 2, Neoliberalisation of the university and academic work, commences with exploring (quasi-)privatisation, which means universities operate as businesses primarily for their own gain. There is an account of the ways in which marketisation seems now to be a core of university activities. The aim is to show that reputation and corporate branding drive what is valued, over and above teaching, learning, and research that is based on creative and critical thinking. Universities are now operating in a competitive marketplace similar to the rat race in the private sector. Particular attention is paid to the way that this landscape conditions the everyday reality of academics and their students. Secondly, the focus is on the role of technology. Technology has often been framed as being a driver of innovation, but in the neoliberal university it is increasingly deployed for different and nefarious purposes, including surveillance of the academic’s work and practices, as part of performance management. Technology is also used for cost-saving, even when the quality of the student experience and learning journey is detrimentally impacted. The third section explores the role of competition that negatively coerces academic life. The argument is that academics are coerced to acquiesce with a competitive spirit through performativity, and that they have become deprofessionalised, proletarianised, and precarious workers. There is also explication of the consequences of this toxified environment, which have been tragic in cases that we report. The final discussion of this chapter is about the curriculum offering in HE and the ways that it has shifted from being critical, creative, and holistic – to one that is increasingly narrowing its remit to prioritise employability and a narrow-financialised conception of entrepreneurialism. The final discussion develops our concept of critical reflectivity, which is about the ability to articulate wider neoliberal pressures to the academic life in the neoliberal university.