Business as usual 2

July 20, 2007

Bill Rammell's insistence that there is a continuing place for "pure academic activities" in higher education is welcome as far as it goes. Yet his immediate and emphatic qualification that most academics accept "the fiercely competitive global-market economy" will fuel suspicions that instrumental and economistic goals and values will prevail.

Within the framework of the research assessment exercise, for example, "research" is routinely interpreted in such a way that positivistic, programmatic academic activity that broadly accepts status quo thinking is rewarded quite disproportionately, while the value of radically innovative scholarship is neither recognised nor "scored" to anything like the same extent. Within this regime of truth, it seems most unlikely that British higher education will be the potent source of the innovative leading-edge thinking to which the new Prime Minister claims to aspire.

Richard House
Roehampton University

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