Rising from ashes of market conflagration

September 5, 2013

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.

Richard House
Department of education studies and liberal arts
University of Winchester

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Reader's comments (2)

I would like to thank Richard House for writing in support of my views. For my part I would like to add that following my opinion piece I have received many messages from colleagues expressing similar sentiments. They were all sent privately because,as one colleague put it, management might retaliate for voicing any concern or critique. Who wants this kind of academia?
This is bizarre. A person quits a job voluntarily. That person stipulates that the stupidity and ignorance of her students motivates her decision. She does not want 'Zumba teachers' to have her, on their C.V, as Academic referee. She implies that Roehampton Uni is somehow not 'quite quite'. There is no suggestion that she would have resigned from somewhere truly posh. Yet, somehow the blame falls on 'neo-liberalism'. What a terrible thing! Alessandra isn't being forced to teach Zumba teachers. (Surely the proper Swedenborgian punishment for her). But, it is our lack of Stalinism, not neo-liberal principles which allows this lady to escape her (no doubt reciprocally) noxious predicament.

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