To increase revenue and prevent departmental cuts, a new MA was set up at my previous university to attract middle managers looking for fast-track promotion. Most of the students had no prior experience of studying social science. I taught a course on political theory from the Enlightenment to postmodernism. Given the difficulty of pitching the lectures and frequent questions from the students along the lines of "what has Baudrillard got to do with the real world?", it was a demoralising experience. Depressingly, my middle managers' scepticism about the subject's "relevance" now seems to have become the world-view of our Education Secretary. What I learnt was that the new managerialism generally leads to mediocrity.
Geoff Andrews is lecturer and staff tutor in politics at the Open University and author of Not a Normal Country: Italy After Berlusconi (Pluto Press, 2005).