Philosophical Conversations Public Opinion Junk for code
parliament house.gif
Think Tanks
Oz Blogs
Economic Blogs
Foreign Policy Blogs
International Blogs
Media Blogs
South Australian Weblogs
Economic Resources
Environment Links
Political Resources
South Australian Links
"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

University reform « Previous | |Next »
April 15, 2003

My pre-occupation with renovations has meant that my eye has slipped from domestic public policy issues. Maybe they've gone quiet because of the war. I'v noticed that higher education in the form of university reform has come into the foreground. Brendon Nelson promised lots in terms of reforms from a social liberal perspective, and so offering more than the standard neo-liberal fare of deregulation, privatisation and corporatisation. Neo-liberals or economic rationalists are broadly hostile to politics beyond that minimum necessary to sustain a nightwatchmen state. Social liberalism works from the norms of fairness and decency have hitherto played a central part in Australian public life

But its a fizzer. Basically there is no public money because of the war. Budget savings are the order of the day. Future funding is on a promise a year or so out.

What seems to be happening is deregulation of student fees (students are to pay more for courses), deregulation of the academic labour market (more flexibility in salaries, individual contracts and downsizing). The social liberal side of the reform was limited to financial incentives for students living in regional communities to study at tertiary level and new funds to help universities "promote teaching excellence" through buying the latest information technologies and other teaching aids.

What is most disappointing is that Brendan Nelson has continued to work within the old policy framework of the universities being characterised by massive inertia, in need of substantial modernization, and reform plans to ensure that the universities continue to become ever more instrumental to economic interests. This is a pathway to the universities being increasingly governed by the market and producing market values.

So the tendency of the liberal university to contribute to the knowledge economy by becoming a high-tech entrepreneural university continues, and the humanities continue to be downgraded along with the possibilities for facilitating a civic education that nurtures or builds the civic capacity of citizens to enable them to be active and informed citizens and to exercise agency over their social, political and economic lives. The humanities are downgraded as the university becomes a core institution of a high-tech society. As the old interpretive traditions of the academy (a life of scholarship and collegial governance) are quietly buried the humanities become the new creative industries. Humanities'scholars reinvent themselves as innovative designers

Not sure what the reinvention of the new humanities as creative industries means? This should set you right: its a rosy future based on the new technology. Long gone is the search for unalienated labor in academia that is akin to a spiritual striving. As Chutney says:

"The idyllic life of the idealized academic harkens back to simpler times—when a PhD could be at one with their work and at peace with the world—times which may have never existed in the first place, but times that academia hold out implicitly as the just reward for PhD work."

In the high-tech entrepreneurial university the educational managers have no time for such traditionalism.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:27 PM | | Comments (0)