This article aims to analyse the multiple ways in which the neoliberal regulation of knowledge is negotiated by returning Chilean scholars. The data gathered suggest the construction of knowledge is highly regulated by a principle of intellectual endogamy. Intellectual endogamy is characterised by conservatism, reflected in a lack of diversity in research themes and problems and maintained by a peer-review system that controls scholars’ access to research funds. However, it is also characterised by instrumentalism, which is reflected in the requirements for obtaining research funds, such as publications in indexed journals and discourses of efficiency and productivity. Both facets engender a neoliberal regulation of academic work. This research encourages an expansion of the conversation about how academic mobility affects knowledge construction.
The neoliberal regulation of academic work
Ana Luisa Muñoz-García
Information literacy, the concept most associated with inculcating the attributes necessary to behave in a strategic, thoughtful and ethical manner in the face of a superfluity of information, has been part of the information specialist scene for many years. As the United Kingdom’s QAA benchmark statements for Politics and International Relations highlight, many of the competences associated with this concept are vital in the honourable struggle to become a successful graduate of those disciplines. This article presents a longitudinal study of a survey used to expose the information literacy levels of two groups of first-year Politics/IR students at a British university and, using the logic of ‘most similar design’, make informed inferences about the level of students’ information literacy on coming into tertiary education.
Laura Louise Sarauw, Sintayehu Kassaye Alemu, and Penny Welch
Macfarlane, B. (2017), Freedom to Learn: The Threat to Student Academic Freedom and Why It Needs to Be Reclaimed London: Routledge, 140 pp., ISBN 978-0-415-72916-1
P. Zgaga, U. Teichler, H. G. Schuetze and A. Wolter (eds) (2015), Higher Education Reform: Looking Back and Looking Forward Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 431 pp., ISBN 978-3-631-66275-5
D. Pecorari and P. Shaw (eds) (2019), Student Plagiarism in Higher Education: Reflections on Teaching Practice London: Routledge, 180 pp., ISBN 978-1-138-05516-2
The case of Ukrainian reforms in higher education
Despite the diversity of socio-political and economic contexts, educational transformations in post-socialist states have some common trends: orientation towards the ‘West’ and denial of the socialist past; marketisation of higher education through the introduction and extension of paid services, as well as promotion of competition for public funding; economisation of higher education via adjustment to the amount of economic resources and labour market demand. In this article, I analyse how those trends have been reflected in political practices and public discourses in the case of Ukrainian higher education reforms since the ‘Euromaidan’ events in 2013–2014. The research shows that, in the Ukrainian case, concepts of orientation towards the ‘West’, marketisation and economisation of higher education are the key elements of local opinion makers’ political rhetoric that play a crucial role in the process of legitimisation of neoliberal reforms in higher education.
Higher education reform in the ‘periphery’
Mariya Ivancheva and Ivo Syndicus
In recent years, an increasing body of work has addressed the ‘corporatisation’ and ‘commodification’ of universities, as well as higher education sector reforms more broadly. This work refers mostly to the traditional core hubs of higher education, such as the Anglo-American research university. In the emerging anthropology of higher education policy, accounts of the implementation and negotiation of reforms in more ‘peripheral’ contexts often remain absent. This collection of articles addresses this absence by focusing on the interplay between narratives of global policy reform and the processes of their implementation and negotiation in different contexts in the academic ‘periphery’. Bringing together work from a range of settings and through different lenses, the special issue provides insights into the common processes of reform that are underway and how decisions to implement certain reforms reaffirm rather than challenge peripheral positions in higher education.
Trends and contestations from Egypt and Jordan
This article addresses the core-periphery nexus by looking at some of the reform packages proposed in the 2000s in these two pivotal countries in the Middle East, Egypt and Jordan, as well as the resistances they generated. These reform packages include internationalisation and privatisation policies, as well as World Bank–sponsored programmes intended to enhance the higher education sector. These programmes are marked by a high degree of isomorphism with global trends: they belong to an unquestioned centre, with peripheries as receiving points of policies elaborated elsewhere. In this article, I examine some of the resistances they were met with in Egypt and Jordan and show how their translations were shaped by the logics of the local contexts so that they were rarely implemented. Looking at post–Arab Spring developments, the article reflects on the continuity of reform packages amidst political turmoil, and the ways in which these reforms are altering or reinforcing processes of peripheralisation.
Between a centre and a periphery in contemporary Finland
This article investigates contemporary attempts to reform the institution of the university according to neoliberal ideological influences and oppositions to them. It employs Doreen Massey’s concept of space to focus on relations and separations made in the process. My ethnography of the University of Helsinki’s 375th anniversary celebration, which turned into a public spectacle of various visions of higher education, constitutes the main empirical material. Finland’s ambivalent position in the world renders the spatial work of forging connections and disconnections particularly conspicuous. It enables specific neoliberal aspirations (such as to be among ‘the world’s best universities’ amidst global competition) to become very strong but also allows additional trajectories, like the one about higher education as public goods, to present themselves as legitimate alternatives. The centre-periphery relations are therefore critical sites for analysing the contemporary university transformation, since they appear to be key drivers of the reform but also the primary source of resistance to it.
This article examines the impact of contemporary higher education policy at a rural university in Japan. Hirosaki University, although a national university with an attached medical school, is far from the centre of academia in Japan, with a comparatively low ranking among national universities in Japan, and severe budget constraints. The policies that influence the trajectory of the university simultaneously illustrate two dimensions. On the one hand, they reflect global trends of neoliberal higher educational governance as these unfold in a leading nation-state within Asia. On the other hand, they show how policies originating within central government ministries and dictated by population and budget dynamics yield a highly localised outcome that forces a peripheral university to concentrate its efforts predominantly in its own community.
The continued importance of a global issues general education course
Carol D. Miller
At the beginning of the semester, 42.6 per cent of undergraduates enrolled in a lower division, general education global studies course at a comprehensive state university in the Midwestern United States reported that they ‘didn’t know’ what the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was, and 85 per cent believed that, in general, trade with other countries created jobs. Analyses of data show that those who did not rely on TV or radio for their news sources were less likely to know what NAFTA was, but their knowledge transformed by the end of the semester. Results demonstrated the necessity for general education courses focused on global issues in an era when students do not rely on traditional sources for news information.
Penny Welch and Susan Wright
In this issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences, academics from Sweden, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom offer insights into a number of features of undergraduate study – independent study projects, the development of political attitudes, the graduate attributes agenda, general education courses in global studies and the attainment gap between students with different types of entry qualifications.