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university futures « Previous | |Next »
January 15, 2010

A possible future neo-liberal scenario for universities in Australia as a result of needing to reduce government debt. That means deep cuts somewhere. Why not higher education? It is not protected by the ballot box in the same way that health is.

A possible future is one of increases in university tuition fees, reduced government funding, most universities delivering cut-price vocational training to all but those students at elite universities who overwhelmingly come from the most privileged social backgrounds; concentrating all research funding in a handful of elite institutions; denying academics at other institutions the opportunity to engage in direct research; research funding across all disciplines will in future be tied to measurable economic ‘impact’.

Realistic? It would have been under the Howard Government.This part of the political class did not want to have well-educated, independently-minded generations of young people asking awkward questions.

Their education policy meant the transformation of large numbers of ‘students’ into a ready source of casual labour; the attempted transformation of higher education into uncritical training for employment, and the explicit orientation of research towards the demands of business. This policy was symptomatic of a situation in which ‘business interests’, narrowly conceived, were allowed to organise the shape and direction of our educational culture.

And under Rudd? We will have to wait and see. The current university expansion agenda appears to mean that what is under the guise of ‘university education’ is a new form of tertiary vocational training for the service, retail and media industries. The market talk enframes us as competitive consumers, as opposed to the old (1970s) social democratic ideal of equality of access to an excellent university education.

For all its talk of the knowledge economy Rudd Labor operates with the social democratic shell and the neo-liberal content favoured by the business lobby; one in which graduates are to be educated to take up junior management and marketing positions and any other form of education (eg., in the humanities) involving autonomy in thinking, researching and writing is deemed to be a dangerous diversion.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:49 PM | | Comments (1)


yes, the commodification of tertiary ed/n rolls on unabated. I'm beginning to feel that the neo-liberal experiment has gone so far, encroaching on every aspect of our lives and inhabiting our collective instincts and reactions that it will be nigh on impossible to achieve any kind of reversal.