Advertisement

Academic Freedom and the Disciplinary Regime in the Neoliberal University

  • Liz MorrishEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

The ideology of neoliberal market competition in UK universities has been given added impetus by a recent Higher Education and Research Act (2017) and driven by institutional anxieties about league tables and rankings. In this context, universities have been increasingly concerned with reputation and the creation of conformist academic subjects. There have been considerable incentives for managers to disregard the evident stress on academics that the audit culture associated with the Research Excellence Framework and the Teaching Excellence Framework has produced. Universities have turned to close monitoring of tightly delimited academic performance metrics for their staff. The disciplinary apparatus has been strengthened, thus ensuring the compliance of employees and deterring criticism of management. Drawing upon the experiences of the author, who found herself facing allegations of misconduct for taking issue with the appalling pressure this working environment has brought about, this chapter argues that university managers are hostile to academic freedom and operate with very low thresholds of tolerance for critics of higher education policy and practice. In an era of managerial unaccountability, we speculate about the possibility of working within the new discipline of critical university studies.

References

  1. Academic Analytics. (n.d.). https://academicanalytics.com/Public/WhatWeDo. Accessed 6 June 2018.
  2. Ahmed, S. (2017). Living a Feminist Life. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ahmed, S. (2018). The Time of Complaint. Feminist Killjoys Blog. https://feministkilljoys.com/2018/05/30/the-time-of-complaint/. Accessed 31 May 2018.
  4. Amsler, S. (2015). The Education of Radical Democracy. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beer, D. (2016). Metric Power. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bishop, D. (2013). Journal Impact Factors and REF 2014. http://deevybee.blogspot.com/2013/01/journal-impact-factors-and-ref-2014.html. Accessed 6 June 2018.
  7. Bothwell, E. (2018, February 8). Work-Life Balance Survey: Long Hours Take Their Toll on Academics. Times Higher Education. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/work-life-balance-survey-2018-long-hours-take-their-toll-academics.
  8. Brandist, C. (2016, May 5). The Risks of Soviet-Style Managerialism in UK Universities. Times Higher Education. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/comment/the-risks-of-soviet-style-managerialism-in-united-kingdom-universities. Accessed 6 June 2018.
  9. Brown, W. (2015). Undoing the Demos. Boston: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  10. Burrows, R. (2012). Living with the H-Index? Metric Assemblages in the Contemporary Academy. The Sociological Review, 60(2), 355–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Butler, N., & Spoelstra, S. (2014). The Regime of Excellence and the Erosion of Ethos in Critical Management Studies. British Journal of Management, 25, 538–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Colquhoun, D. (2016). More on Bullying at Imperial College London: What’s Being Done? http://www.dcscience.net/2016/12/21/more-on-bullying-at-imperial-college-london-whats-being-done/. Accessed 6 June 2018.
  13. Deem, R., & Brehony, K. (2005). Management as Ideology: The Case of ‘New Managerialism’ in Higher Education. Oxford Review of Education, 31(2), 217–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Deem, R., Hillyard, S., & Reed, M. (2007). Knowledge, Higher Education and the New Managerialism: The Changing Management of UK Universities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Docherty, T. (2011, November 10). The Unseen Academy. Times Higher Education. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/418076.article. Accessed 6 June 2018.
  16. Docherty, T. (2014, December 4). Thomas Docherty on Academic Freedom. Times Higher Education. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/thomas-docherty-on-academic-freedom/2017268.article. Accessed 6 June 2018.
  17. Docherty, T. (2015). Universities at War. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Else, H. (2017, August 22). Academics Face Higher Mental Health Risk Than Other Professions. Times Higher Education. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/academics-face-higher-mental-health-risk-than-other-professions. Accessed 21 May 2018.
  19. Foucault, M. (2007). Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–1978 (G. Burchell, Trans.). Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  20. Gallagher, C. (2018). War on the Ivory Tower: Alt Right Attacks on University Professors. The Public Eye, 94 (Spring). https://www.politicalresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/PE_Spring2018_Gallaher.pdf.
  21. Hall, R., & Bowles, K. (2016). Re-engineering Higher Education: The Subsumption of Academic Labour and the Exploitation of Anxiety. Workplace, 28, 30–47.Google Scholar
  22. Hall, R., & Winn, J. (Eds.). (2018). Mass Intellectuality and Democratic Leadership in Higher Education. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  23. Higher Education and Research Act. (2017). http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2017/29/contents/enacted. Accessed 21 May 2018.
  24. Holmwood, J. (2011). TRACked and FECked: How Audits Undermine the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. http://exquisitelife.researchresearch.com/exquisite_life/2011/03/tracked-and-fecked-how-audits-undermine-the-arts-humanities-and-social-sciences.html. Accessed 5 June 2018.
  25. Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics. http://www.leidenmanifesto.org/. Accessed 6 June 2018.
  26. Loveday, V. (2018). The Neurotic Academic: How Anxiety Fuels Casualised Academic Work. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2018/04/17/the-neurotic-academic-how-anxiety-fuels-casualised-academic-work/. Accessed 21 May 2018.
  27. Matthews, D. (2016, June 23). UCL Floats Plan to Expand to 60,000 Students. Times Higher Education. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/university-college-london-ucl-floats-plan-to-expand-to-sixty-thousand-students. Accessed 21 May 2018.
  28. Morozov, E. (2014). To Save Everything, Click Here. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  29. Morrish, L. (2015). Raising the Bar: The Metric Tide That Sinks All Boats. Academic Irregularities Blog. https://academicirregularities.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/raising-the-bar-the-metric-tide-that-sinks-all-boats/. Accessed 1 June 2018.
  30. Morrish, L. (2017a). Neoliberalism and the Academy: Have You Drunk the Kool-Aid? In A. Mooney & E. Sifaki (Eds.), The Language of Money and Debt: A Multidisciplinary Approach (pp. 137–162). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  31. Morrish, L. (2017b). Stress Fractures: One Year on. Academic Irregularities. https://academicirregularities.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/stress-fractures-one-year-on/.
  32. Morrish, L. (2017c, March 2). Why the Audit Culture Made Me Quit. Times Higher Education. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/why-audit-culture-made-me-quit. Accessed 6 June 2018.
  33. Morrish, L. (2019). Pressure Vessels: The Epidemic of Poor Mental Health Among Higher Education Staff (HEPI Occasional Paper 20). https://www.hepi.ac.uk/2019/05/23/pressure-vessels-the-epidemic-of-poor-mental-health-among-higher-education-staff/.
  34. Morrish, L., & Sauntson, H. (2016). Performance Management and the Stifling of Academic Freedom and Knowledge Production. Journal of Historical Sociology, 29(1), 42–64.  https://doi.org/10.1111/johs.12122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Morrish, L., & The Analogue University Writing Collective. (2017). Academic Identities in the Managed University: Neoliberalism and Resistance at Newcastle University. Australian Universities’ Review, 59(2), 23–35.Google Scholar
  36. Morrissey, J. (2013). Governing the Academic Subject: Foucault, Governmentality and the Performing University. Oxford Review of Education, 39(6), 797–810.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Parr, C. (2017, December 19). The 25 Most Popular Times Higher Education Articles of 2017. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/blog/25-most-popular-times-higher-education-articles-2017.
  38. Petersen, E. B., & Davies, B. (2010). In/Difference in the Neoliberalised University. Learning and Teaching in the Social Sciences, 3(2), 92–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Petrina, S., & Ross, W. (2014). Critical University Studies: Workplace, Milestones, Crossroads, Respect. Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, 23, 62–71.Google Scholar
  40. Responsible Metrics. https://responsiblemetrics.org/. Accessed 6 June 2018.
  41. Richardson, H. (2019). University Counselling Services ‘Inundated by Stressed Academics’. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/education-48353331.
  42. San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). https://sfdora.org/. Accessed 6 June 2018.
  43. Sayer, D. (2015). Rank Hypocrisies: The Insult of the REF. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Shore, C., & Wright, S. (2015). Audit Culture Revisited. Current Anthropology, 56(3), 421–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Slaughter, S., & Leslie, L. (1997). Academic Capitalism. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Slaughter, S., & Rhoades, G. (2004). Academic Capitalism and the New Economy. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Strathern, M. (Ed.). (2000). Audit Cultures: Anthropological Studies in Accountability, Ethics, and the Academy. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  48. UK Government, Department for Business Innovation and Skills. (2016). Success as a Knowledge Economy (Government White Paper). https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-success-as-a-knowledge-economy-white-paper. Accessed 6 June 2018.
  49. UK Government, Department for Education. (2018, May). Sam Gyimah Hosts Free Speech Summit. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sam-gyimah-hosts-free-speech-summit. Accessed 6 June 2018.
  50. University of Exeter. Social Media Policy. http://www.exeter.ac.uk/staff/employment/hrpoliciesatoz/socialmedia/. Accessed 31 May 2018.
  51. Varoufakis, Y. (2015, July 13). Yanis Varoufakis Full Transcript: Our Battle to Save Greece. New Statesman. https://www.newstatesman.com/world-affairs/2015/07/yanis-varoufakis-full-transcript-our-battle-save-greece.
  52. Warner, M. (2014). Diary: Why I Quit. London Review of Books, 36(17), 42–43. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n17/marina-warner/diary. Accessed 6 June 2018.
  53. Warner, M. (2015). Learning My Lesson. London Review of Books, 37(6), 8–14. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n06/marina-warner/learning-my-lesson. Accessed 6 June 2018.
  54. Wilsdon, J., Allen, L., Belfiore, E., Campbell, P., Curry, S., Hill, S., et al. (2015). The Metric Tide: Report of the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management. http://www.hefce.ac.uk/media/HEFCE,2014/Content/Pubs/Independentresearch/2015/The,Metric,Tide/2015_metric_tide.pdf. Accessed 22 May 2018.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Visiting FellowYork St John UniversityYorkUK

Personalised recommendations