This article focuses on the site where much anthropological work is conducted—universities—and anthropological approaches to studying their current transformations. Although I work comparatively on the imagining and enactment of universities in Denmark and Britain, here I focus on the recent changes to universities in England, which have taken many by surprise, as if they exceeded anyone's wildest imagination and were even beyond belief. I will trace how the “conditions of possibility” for the current changes came about—the tripling of student fees, removal of government funding for teaching in arts and social sciences, and transfer of public resources to commercial, for-profit higher education companies. I will briefly outline the problems that opponents to these moves are having in imagining an alternative future, let alone organizing themselves to contest current developments. In conclusion, I will point to the changes in anthropology itself that are incurred when engaging in an ethnography of such a large policy field and when attempting to capture “what the present is producing” (Moore 1987: 727).
Anwar Tlili and Susan Wright
The UK government's 2004 law, aiming to make universities contribute to Britain's success in the global knowledge economy, creates an explicit market in higher education. Students are presumed to occupy the status of consumer in an economic transaction with universities. The law gives students a right to information and an audit function so that their choices as 'intelligent consumers' will 'drive change' in universities. Interviews in two contrasting universities explore students' responses to this discourse and reveal their different aspirations and concepts of education. Yet they share doubts that regimes of audit and notions of accountability to consumers will not make their voices really 'count'.
Penny Welch and Susan Wright
We are delighted to introduce the first volume of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences. As founding and now-former editors of Learning and Teaching in the Social Sciences (LATISS), our new journal reflects a strong continuity in the editorial aims that inspired our first journal. We remain committed to using social science perspectives to analyse learning and teaching in higher education. In particular we invite contributors and readers to reflect critically on how students’ and academics’ practices are shaped by, or themselves influence, wider changes in university strategies and national and international policies for higher education. Viewing changes in course design and curriculum, in students’ writing, in group work, seminars or tutorials as taking place within a network (or lattice) of institutional, political and policy contexts is the focus of this journal.
a voluntary method of coordination and marketisation?
Ole Henckel and Susan Wright
Ole Henckel is writing his PhD thesis on the relationship between national and European higher education policy as well as the history of the Bologna process. The aim of this interview was to learn about the historical background to the Bologna process, which interests were involved and which were excluded, what their motivations were, why they thought it was a good idea, and what they were trying to achieve? As the interview progressed, it focused on three themes. First, at what points did it become clear to participants that they were engaged in a new European 'great game' of creating not just a standardised Higher Education Area, but a global market? Second, how does the Bologna process work as an exemplar of the European Union's new form of governance through freedom, often referred to as the operation of 'soft power' or the Open Method of Coordination? Third, what are the most recent developments, and what kind of future is emerging?
Penny Welch and Wright Susan
Welcome to the third issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences. This issue completes the 2008 volume. Our thanks go to the authors of articles and reviews, the anonymous referees who read the articles, the publishers who provided review copies of the books, our own publisher, Berghahn, and the editorial board.
Susan Wright and Penny Welch
Welcome to the tenth anniversary issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences (LATISS). This anniversary presents an opportunity for celebration and for reflection on the progress made by the journal. Our aim for the journal, as set out on the website, has remained unchanged:
Learning and Teaching (LATISS) is a peer-reviewed journal that uses the social sciences to reflect critically on learning and teaching in the changing context of higher education. The journal invites students and staff to explore their education practices in the light of changes in their institutions, national higher education policies, the strategies of international agencies and developments associated with the so-called international knowledge economy.
Penny Welch and Susan Wright
This tenth anniversary issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences (LATISS) focuses on a range of learning and teaching innovations in our core disciplines of anthropology, politics and sociology.
Penny Welch and Susan Wright
Welcome to this issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences.
Our thanks go to the authors of the articles and book reviews, the anonymous referees who commented on the manuscripts, the publishers who provided review copies of the books, our own publisher Berghahn and the Editorial Board.
Mobility in doctoral education – and beyond
Corina Balaban and Susan Wright
This special issue emerged as a result of Universities in the Knowledge Economy (UNIKE), a four-year collaborative research project and training programme for early-stage researchers that investigated the dynamic relationships between universities and knowledge economies in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific Rim. The project was funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission (EC) and included researchers based at six different universities in five European countries. Mobility was not only a widespread research interest within the UNIKE academic community but also a reality of the project, which was in itself a practical example of mobility in doctoral education, as envisaged by the European Commission. Many questions emerged as to how mobility became so central to the European Union’s policies for higher education, but also as to how the portrayal of mobility on a policy level compared to the actual lived experiences of mobile students and researchers. ‘Mobility’ can refer to many different things: geographical mobility, social mobility, cross-sectoral mobility or intellectual mobility (interdisciplinarity). The academic literature mostly treats them separately, with clusters of studies around each concept. In contrast, this special issue sets out to investigate these different types of mobility collectively, with authors covering several parts or the whole spectrum of mobilities. We believe it is valuable to discuss these four different aspects of mobility together for two reasons. First, they are often mentioned together in higher education policy as ‘desirable’ characteristics of a given education programme. Second, the ideal profile of the new, flexible knowledge worker supposedly combines all these aspects of mobility in one persona. The policy literature produced by influential stakeholders in higher education such as the European Commission and the OECD focuses on how to encourage, foster and support different kinds of mobility, working on the assumption that mobility is inherently good and will benefit countries, higher education systems and individuals. Much of the academic literature has adopted a similar approach, focusing on ways to enable mobility rather than challenge it.
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.