Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2009


Comparative Critiques of the Neoliberal University

Lecturer: Sheila Slaughter, Louise McBee Professor of Higher Education,
Institute of Higher Education, University of Georgia, USA

Main disciplines: Higher Education, Sociology, Political Economy

Dates: 27 - 31 July 2009

Course Credits: 10 pts (ECTS)
Limitation: 30 participants


Objectives
Given global market failures, the time is right to reconsider universities’ relation to the market. “Market fundamentalism” assumes that universities must act entrepreneurially on a variety of fronts because a successful nation must have a technically educated workforce, science that emphasizes patents, spin off companies that create high technology products, which in turn create high paying jobs and a prosperous citizenry. Governments are expected to invest in science and engineering; students and their families are expected to pay more for higher education that will give graduates an advantage in the knowledge economy. These relatively unexamined win-win assumptions have guided policies and practices in neoliberal states and trading blocks. This course will re-examine these policies and look at how they have played out in practices in countries around the world, with emphasis on the classic policy questions: who benefits, who pays? The course will focus to some degree on the United States because it is so highly marketized, and provides rich lessons about the problems of academic capitalism. However, readings will also cover the European Union, as well as specific European countries, and higher education in global context. The course will contribute to students’ understanding of current policies and stimulate creative approaches to future policy development.

 

Books needed for the course

Lectures will primarily cover the above books and selected articles that critique neoliberal universities.

 

LECTURE OUTLINE

Lecture 1: The neoliberal turn: Promises and policies
The neoliberal turn occurred in different ways in different higher education systems. In the United States, the change was earlier than in most other systems, but took place incrementally. Australia and the United Kingdom turned very rapidly to marketization. Canada was reluctant. In Europe, the EU has promoted marketization. This lecture reviews similarities and dissimilarities in various countries and trading blocks, looking at the very different policies that nonetheless led in similar directions.

Core readings:


Supplemental readings:

 

Lecture 2: Teaching, research and service in the neoliberal university
Although many countries have taken the neoliberal turn, academic capitalism plays out in differently in specific national and local contexts. The ways in which national and local context shape academic capitalism are examined, concentrating on the ways in which ways in which the traditional missions of universities shift under market pressures. For example, the public service mission in US universities is redefined as service to economic development rather than broad service to a democratic citizenry.

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Supplemental reading:

 

Lecture 3: Consolidation of the neoliberal turn
When academic intellectual property is commodified, it changes student and faculty life. This lecture looks at these changes with regard to patents and copyright. Faculty, institutional and student claims to intellectual property are examined in detail, as are the consequences for faculty-student relations, and faculty-administrative relations. The contradictions of state-subsidized academic entrepreneurs are explored.

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Supplemental reading:

 

Lecture 4: Consolidation continued
Academic capitalism changes the way departments function and the goals of university administrators. Department heads must develop strategies that enable their units to meet increasing market demands and administrators must develop strategies that will result in university success in national and international rating schemes. Trustees of universities also play important roles, particularly with regard to fund raising and market connections. In the United States, athletics have always been tied into markets, and have become more so as the ability to raise money becomes more important to various units’ success within the university as a whole. However, undergraduate students pay increasingly higher tuition in marketized universities.

Core readings:


Supplemental readings:

 

Lecture 5: European and Global dimensions of neoliberalism
The neoliberal turn has European and global implications. Organizations such as the World Bank and International monetary fund play a role in the marketization of universities, often through structural adjustment policies. The European Union plays a role with policies developed in Brussels that emphasize marketization of research and international educational competition. The Bologna process stimulates student mobility and creates conditions for a labor market that embraces the entire EU. We will examine the consequences of these policies for specific students, disciplines and nations.

Core readings:

 

Lecture 6: More on European and Global dimensions of neoliberalism

Core readings:

 

Lecture 7: Work processes within the neoliberal university
Neoliberalism calls for greater productivity on the part of well educated, efficient workers, who produce more for less, leading to enhanced profits for corporations, and, theoretically, lower costs for consumers. However, this model does not translate well to labor intensive “industries.” Work processes for faculty and graduate students have changed dramatically under neoliberalism. In the US, a small number of “star” faculty do very well, but the majority of faculty teach more classes and more students for less pay; adjuncts or contingent faculty labor account for more than 50% of the teaching force; graduate assistants never graduate because they are too busy as teaching assistants, instructing undergraduates for even lower pay than adjunct faculty. Although these faculty and graduate student work processes have not yet spread widely to the EU, there is movement in this direction.

Core readings:

 

Lecture 8: Neoliberal universities: who benefits, who pays?
The universities we have considered are non-profit or public universities. When they engage heavily in marketization, questions are raised about whether they should continue to have public subsidies in the form of tax relief and grants from various levels of government to pay for an array of programs as well as for student tuition. What is and what should be the relationship between non-profit, public, and private sectors within higher education. To understand how neoliberalism has shaped universities, we need to review who benefits from changed university policies and practices and who pays.

Core readings:

 

Lecture 9: Further considerations of who benefits, who pays

Core readings:


Supplemental readings:

 

Lecture 10: Alternatives to the neoliberal university
In this final lecture, possibilities of reforming the neoliberal university are considered. The idea of the public good is re-considered, as is the role of universities in democracies and knowledge societies. Different approaches to funding are appraised as are different strategies about how universities might deploy intellectual property. The roles of faculty, students, and administrators in reform are also examined.

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Supplemental readings:

 


The lecturer
Sheila Slaughter is the Louise McBee Professor of Higher Education, Institute of Higher Education, the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA. Her research areas are: political economy of higher education; science and technology policy; academic freedom; and women in higher education. Her most recent book, co-authored with Gary Rhoades, is Academic Capitalism and the New Economy, Johns Hopkins University Press (2004). Among her most recent articles and are:(1)Matthew Mars, Sheila Slaughter and Gary Rhoades, 2008. “The State-Subsidized Student Entrepreneur,” Journal of Higher Education, Nov/Dec, Vol. 79 Issue 6, pp. 638-670; (2) Brian Pusser, Sheila Slaughter and Scott L. Thomas. 2006. “Playing the Board Game: An empirical analysis of university trustee & corporate board interlocks.” Journal of Higher Education. 77, 5: 747-775; (3) Sheila Slaughter and Gary Rhoades. 2005. “From endless frontier to basic science for use: Social contracts between science and society.” Science, Technology and Human Values. 30,4: 1-37. Among her most recent book chapters are: (1) Sheila Slaughter, “Academic freedom and the state,” in Joseph Hermanowicz, ed., Academics as professionals, forthcoming, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ; (2) Amy Metcalfe and Sheila Slaughter. “The differential effects of academic capitalism on women in the academy.” In Judith Glazer-Raymo, ed., Unfinished agends: New and continuing gender challenges in higher education, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008, pp. 80-111; (2) Gary Rhoades and Sheila Slaughter “Academic capitalism and the new economy: Privatization as shifting the target of public subsidy in higher education.” In Carlos Alberto Torres and Robert A Rhoads (eds), Globalization and higher education in the Americas. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2006. pp. 103-40. Her most recent grants are: (1) “University trustees and conflict of interest” with Maryann Feldman and Scott L. Thomas, National Institutes of Health, Research on research integrity/Board of Medicine(2005-09); (2) “Universities, Innovation and Economic Growth,” with Larry Leslie and Liang Zhang, National Science Foundation, Science of Science Policy(2008-2011); and (3) Gender and Academic Capitalism: Men and Women of the Entrepreneurial Academy,” with Amy Metcalfe, Canadian Social Science Research Council, “2008-2011. Slaughter received the Association for the Study of Higher Education Research Achievement Award in 1998, and the American Educational Research Association Career Research Achievement Award in 2000. She currently has an Erasmus Mundus Fellowship, HeDDA, Oslo Norway, funded by European Union, 2009. A European Facebook blog, Fight Academic Capitalism, draws on her work with Gary Rhoades for a theoretical basis.


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