Australia: reclaiming the public university?
AuthorBATTERBURY, S; Byrne, JA
Source TitleSocial Epistemology Review and Reply Collective
PublisherSocial Epistemology Review and Reply Collective
University of Melbourne Author/sBatterbury, Simon
AffiliationResource Management and Geography
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsBATTERBURY, S. & Byrne, J. A. (2017). Australia: reclaiming the public university?. Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, 2017, pp.23-33
Access StatusOpen Access
In a provocative article published in 'Minerva' in 2015, Halffman and Radder discuss the Kafkaesque worlds that academics in the Netherlands now find themselves in, as an underfunded university sector predates upon itself and its workforce (2015, p. 165-166). Their Academic Manifesto observes that Dutch tertiary institutions have become obsessively focused on ‘accountability’ and pursue neoliberal-style imperatives [forced upon them] of ‘efficiency and excellence’. They paint a portrait of academics under siege, untrusted, and constantly micro-managed. The pursuit of so-called efficiency has involved accountability systems that are themselves wasteful, driving seemingly endless institutional restructuring. Moreover, institutions have become obsessed with star-performers in research, driven by competitive targets that undergird global rankings. Metrics – publication outputs, journal quality, citations, impact and grant revenue – produce a culture of competition and sometimes, mercenary behaviours, on the part of academics and managers. While there may be beacons of light, they are heavily shielded in the article, which makes for depressing reading. Their provocation prompts two questions, to which we will try to respond through our own experiences and review of Australia's adoption of,and resistance to, higher education reform: 1.How does Australia compare? 2.What can Australian universities and their staff do?
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