Strengthening the Evaluative State: Strategy, Values and Rhetoric
Despite the role that France played in pioneering the Evaluative State, it is evident that the French government faced a dilemma not very different from one that the UK had confronted a decade earlier. If higher education was to be ‘freed’ from the heavy hand of the state to benefit from the joys of competition between individual higher education establishments, a rather different approach was needed. It was not enough merely to make encouraging noises and gestures, and very particularly so given the growling hostility of two of the three Estates in the university world — the Academic and the Student Estates — to the notion of ‘market forces’ as the great liberator. However, it is one of the more remarkable paradoxes that neoliberalism, a doctrine wedded to rolling back the frontiers of the state, could advance only by rolling them forward. This bizarre example of policy’s equivalent of cognitive dissonance is sometimes alluded to as ‘Amaral’s Paradox’ (Amaral and Magalhães, 2007; Neave, 2008b). It was as much in evidence with the sharp smack of government in Thatcherist Britain as it was in the higher education policy pursued under the presidencies of Messieurs Chirac and Sarkozy.
KeywordsHigh Education High Education Policy Governing Council Institutional Autonomy Political Symbolism
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- 1.The complexity was impressive indeed, so much so that it inspired one Minister of Higher Education and Research to compare the relationship between various Directorates responsible for sectoral research with the writhing conduits of an oil refinery: ‘(Ces Directions) sont reliées par une tuyauterie qui ferait pleurer de jalousie un constructeur de raffinerie de pétrole’ (Devacquet, 1988: 172). As both Minister and a chemist, Mr Devacquet was well qualified to make such a remark!Google Scholar