Why Australia needs a new model for universities, Raewyn Connell

Reposted from, The Conversation

Australia is in need of a new model for universities.That isn’t the impression you get from the delighted students, contented staff and shining buildings pictured on every university website. But that’s a fantasy.University managers now hire a considerable number of advertising staff to create the pretty picture. Behind the façade are growing signs of trouble.A vital one is the gap between management and staff.The CEOs, still called vice-chancellors, are paid up to A$1.3 million a year. Their average package in 2014 was 14 times the starting salary of an entry-level academic working full-time.Surveys of staff show little belief that these highly paid executives are doing a good job. In the 2015 national survey by the National Tertiary Education Union, over two-thirds of the 7,000 university staff who took part in the survey said changes in the workplace have not been handled well.Managers evidently don’t trust the staff either. There is a growing mass of surveillance and auditing mechanisms, branding requirements and online control systems imposed on the work of university staff, including research.

Source: Why Australia needs a new model for universities

Why universities need an entrepreneurial spirit – Agenda – The World Economic Forum

Universities are deadly conservative. We don’t want to be. We say we’re not. But we are. Our traditionalism shows through in the way we provide an undergraduate education which has remained largely unchanged over the past 50 years. We still organise most undergraduate courses so that the possessor of a good first-class degree is capable of proceeding to doctoral research in that subject without any further ado. So the most clearly identifiable outcome of our teaching is the production of individuals who can replace ourselves.

In 1965, this may have made sense; but today in my department at UCL there are 14 times more students than there were 50 years ago. Overall student numbers have grown rapidly since the 1980s, and yet the pedagogical model has barely shifted. It must. In the face of this, some could argue that universities have inadvertently become rent seekers, sitting like a medieval sovereign on the mint of modern credentials.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we are only interested in our most academic students. Academics are aware of our duty to form the minds of all those who come to study, to help them turn themselves into useful, constructive, critical citizens. But we could be much more ambitious about how we can do that today.

Don’t hide away from the world

via Why universities need an entrepreneurial spirit – Agenda – The World Economic Forum.

Paul Ashwin. 5 ways universities have already changed in the 21st century – Agenda – The World Economic Forum

Global higher education underwent a period of remarkable change in the first 15 years of the 21st century. Five key trends affecting universities around the world illustrate how, despite increased access to information, our understanding of higher education remains limited.

via 5 ways universities have already changed in the 21st century – Agenda – The World Economic Forum.

The strange death of the liberal university | Michael Bailey, on openDemocracy

By Michael Bailey, Essex University.

“Published some 80 years ago, George Dangerfield’s The Strange Death of Liberal England remains a compelling and pertinent read. The nub of Dangerfield’s thesis is that, contrary to the received wisdom of the times, the war of 1914-18 was not to blame for the breakdown of Victorian liberalism; rather the decline of Liberal England was the result of radical social forces that emerged in the early twentieth century. Additionally, whereas many of his middle-class contemporaries lamented the stability of high Victorianism (a cultural hegemony that lots of Edwardians took to be unassailable), Dangerfield cheerfully mocked the conventions and modes of conduct that were associated with a Liberal parliamentary democracy, not least its civilised pretensions and political conservatism.

Nowadays, it would seem that we are witnessing the strange death of the liberal university. Various commentators have noted how British universities, though still not-for-profit charities, are being hastily fashioned after private companies and the consequent narrowing of higher education’s raison d’être. The idea of the University as a place of civic education and critical enquiry has been put to a premature death by a raft of neo-capitalist political rationalities that promote inter alia divisive competition, false economies and philistine instrumentality. Academics are bound by ever multiplying forms of spurious measurement, misleading quantification and performance management. Students, in turn, are treated more like consumers than they are citizens, increasingly defrauded with a candyfloss world of university branding and marketing gimmickry. Grant capture, consultancy, citations, impact, quality assurance, unique selling points, student surveys and league tables, have become the new deities that all shall worship.

Whilst the above developments have gathered apace since the financial crisis of 2007/2008, and austerity cuts to public spending notwithstanding, recent criticisms of higher education marketisation have noted how UK academics (among whose number I include myself) are themselves partly to blame for the passing of academia as a liberal bastion: ‘striking absence of powerful and united collective dissent’, ‘consensual silence’, ‘docile polity’, ‘almost complete capitulation’, are just some of the charges that have been leveled at university lecturers and professors. And those academics that do attempt to retain their integrity by refusing to observe the ‘Gospel of Mammonism’ risk being inculpated (as with the inquisitions of the Counter-Reformation) of error, blasphemy, heresy even – censure, denunciation and excommunication soon follow if the accused declines penance and reconciliation.

Not surprisingly, academics have long failed to defend intellectual liberty or to confront inconvenient home truths. Writing at the turn of the twentieth century, the Cambridge classicist-cum-satirist, F.M. Cornford, cautioned junior colleagues, especially the Young Man in a Hurry with a conscience, to heed the Principle of the Dangerous Precedent, which is to say:

via The strange death of the liberal university | openDemocracy.

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