Public Universities, Managerialism and the Value of Higher Education

  • Rob Watts

Part of the Palgrave Critical University Studies book series (PCU)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxi
  2. Rob Watts
    Pages 1-27
  3. Rob Watts
    Pages 29-67
  4. Rob Watts
    Pages 181-214
  5. Rob Watts
    Pages 259-298
  6. Rob Watts
    Pages 335-352
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 353-359

About this book


This book provides a rigorous examination into the realities of the current university system in Britain, America and Australia. The radical makeover of the higher education system which began in the 1980s has conventionally been understood as universities being transformed into businesses which sell education and research in a competitive market. This engaging and provocative book argues that this is not actually the case. Drawing on lived experience, Watts asserts that the reality is actually a consequence of contradictory government policy and new public management whose exponents talk and act ‘as-if’ universities have become businesses. The result of which is ‘market crazed governance’, whereby universities are subjected to expensive rebranding and advertising campaigns and the spread of a toxic culture of customer satisfaction surveys which ask students to evaluate their teachers and what they have learned, based on government ‘metrics’ of research ‘quality’.

This has led to a situation where not only the normal teacher-student relationship is inverted, academic professional autonomy is eroded and many students are short-changed, but where universities are becoming places whose leaders are no longer prepared to tell the truth and too few academics are prepared to insist they do. An impassioned and methodical study, this book will be of great interest to academics and scholars in the field of higher education and education policy.

Rob Watts is Professor of Social Policy at RMIT University, Australia. His books include The Foundations of the National Welfare StateSociology Australia, and States of Violence and the Civilising Process: On Criminology and State Crime


Knowledge New Public Management Culture of Audit Neoliberalism Academic Freedom Student Experience Marketization education higher education university

Authors and affiliations

  • Rob Watts
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Global, Urban & Social ScienceRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages Education
  • Print ISBN 978-1-137-53598-6
  • Online ISBN 978-1-137-53599-3
  • Buy this book on publisher's site