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Freedom to Excel: Performativity, Accountability, and Educational Sovereignty in Hong Kong’s Academic Capitalism

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Academic Freedom Under Siege
  • The original version of this chapter was revised: The affiliation of the chapter author Wai-wan Vivien Chan has been corrected now. The correction to this chapter is available at https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49119-2_13

Abstract

This chapter examines key issues surrounding changes in the academic profession of Hong Kong, including academic excellence, accountability, and educational sovereignty against the backdrop of academic capitalism. Analyses and discussion are based on in-depth interviews with academic professionals and postgraduate students in a leading university in this Asian entrepreneurial city which has inherited a predominantly Western academic culture. Review of newspaper reports is supplemented for analyzing the latest trends of the Hong Kong’s rapidly changing academic profession. Special focus is put on the way academic freedom is understood, expected, and practiced when pressure for performance dominates the everyday tasks of academic life which is increasingly commercialized. It takes universities in Hong Kong as a case study and argues that academic freedom is under siege by performativity as a means to a political end, escalating intrusions from diversified stakeholders, and “mainlandization.”

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Change history

  • 02 April 2021

    The original version of the book was inadvertently published with errors in the affiliation and representation of the names of the chapter authors in the chapter opening page of the sixth chapter. The affiliation of Wai-wan Vivien Chan has now been corrected to “Research Professor, Institute of Public Policy, South China University of Technology”.

Notes

  1. 1.

    University Grants Committee. (2019). Grants for UGC-funded Institutions as a whole, 2003/04 to 2018/19. Retrieved from http://cdcf.ugc.edu.hk/cdcf/searchStatSiteReport.do (accessed on 2019-11-19)

  2. 2.

    The newspaper clipping covers articles from Am 730, Apple Daily (蘋果日報), etnet.com.hk (經濟通), Mingpao (明報), Wenweipo (文匯報), Oriental Daily (東方日報), hk.on.cc (東網), Hong Kong Economic Journal (信報), Hong Kong Commercial Daily (香港商報), Hong Kong Daily News (新報) (which stopped publishing in 2015), Hong Kong Economic Times (香港經濟日報), Singpao (成報), Takungpao (大公報), The Sun (太陽報) (which stopped publishing in 2016), YazhouZhoukan (亞洲週刊), and Next Media (壹週刊).

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Acknowledgments

This chapter is a partial result of a project on the comparative study of the role of faculty in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and the United States. The lead author thanks all the members of the Hong Kong team for their cooperation and hard work.

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Correspondence to Hei-hang Hayes Tang .

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Chan, Ww.V., Tang, Hh.H., Cheung, R.Lk. (2020). Freedom to Excel: Performativity, Accountability, and Educational Sovereignty in Hong Kong’s Academic Capitalism. In: Hao, Z., Zabielskis, P. (eds) Academic Freedom Under Siege. Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects, vol 54. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49119-2_6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49119-2_6

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