Marketizing higher education: neoliberal strategies and counter-strategies

Levidow, Les (2002). Marketizing higher education: neoliberal strategies and counter-strategies. In: Robins, Kevin and Webster, Frank eds. The Virtual University? Knowledge, Markets and Management. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 227–248.

URL: http://www.oup.com/uk/catalogue/?ci=9780199245574

Abstract

[The article had no abstract; the following text is drawn from the Introduction and Conclusion.]

Higher education has become a terrain for marketization agendas. Since the 1980s universities have been urged to adopt commercial models of knowledge, skills, curriculum, finance, accounting, and management organization. Neoliberal strategies for higher education have the following features: all constituencies are treated through business relationships; educational efficiency, accountability and quality are redefined in accountancy terms; courses are recast as instructional commodities; student-teacher relations are mediated by the consumption and production of things, e.g. software products, performance criteria, etc.

These general tendencies are manifest in diverse ways across geopolitical contexts: the 'information society' as a paradigm for ICT in education; the World Bank 'reform agenda' for the self-financing of higher education; Africa, where higher education is being forcibly marketized and standardized through financial dependence; North America, where some universities attempt to become global vendors of instructional commodities; Europe, where state bodies adopt industry agendas of labour flexibilisation as an educational model, in the guise of technological progress; and the UK, where ICT design becomes a terrain for contending educational agendas. This analysis can inform counter-strategies, especially the following elements: demonstrating links among neoliberal forms; linking resistances across constituencies and places; de-reifying Information and Communication Technology (ICT); and developing alternative pedagogies.

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