In her brave condemnation of what has happened to higher education in recent years (“Free market principles have changed (and ruined) the academy”, Opinion, 22 August), Alessandra Lopez y Royo surely speaks for many academics about the intolerable ways in which the neoliberal audit culture has laid waste to the sector and is fundamentally compromising both the student learning experience and the working conditions of teachers and researchers.
Increasing numbers of academic books, papers and reports are saying much the same thing, yet the momentum of those alien forces seems to be beyond the control of anyone working within the system or making policy for it.
My hunch is that Lopez y Royo’s “exit strategy” is one that ever more frustrated academics will be following in the years to come. The sector will lose its best staff, to be replaced by those whose experience will be distorted beyond recognition by the stifling audit culture. Perhaps the time is ripe for new educational forms to arise from the ashes of the academy we used to know: forms that can perhaps become the harbinger of an education system autonomous from government and business that is managed from within the cultural sphere, as advocated a century ago by the educationalist Rudolf Steiner.
Department of education studies and liberal arts
University of Winchester