Cannibalising the Collegium: The Plight of the Humanities and Social Sciences in the Managerial University
The rise of corporate management styles and values in higher education has led to growing exploitation of academic workers, particularly in the humanities and social sciences, through insecure employment. This has diminished the political influence of the very scholars who should be best placed and most inclined to defend the cherished values of academic freedom, collegiality and critical thinking from the depredations of neoliberalism. As public funding diminishes, so universities are becoming less inclined to cross-subsidise vulnerable curricula in the humanities, social sciences and pure sciences, especially in specialised fields of low student demand or fields in which pedagogical requirements are most intensive. In order to make the funding dollar go further, managers have resorted to employing members of the ‘cognitariat’—sessional, casual or short contract staff—to perform a growing proportion of academic work. This is part of a larger economic programme that has imposed Taylorist bureaucratic regulation of much academic work. In this chapter, I will chart the rise of the mass university in Australia, in particular the growth in undergraduate student numbers over the last 20 years. I will argue that the management of this growth—the rounds of organisational change and course rationalisation—has demoralised academic communities and eroded scholarly bonds. Most scholars, however, shrink from the prospect of openly challenging managerialism’s invidious effects. However, in a world in which centralised bureaucratic organisations are becoming increasingly obsolete, the managerial university appears something of an anachronism, and hence vulnerable to challenge.
KeywordsGross Domestic Product Academic Work Youth Unemployment Insecure Employment High Education Contribution Scheme
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