A few days ago, the UK government publicised the new White Paper on Higher Education in England. (click on the title or on the image below to read the White Paper).
SI recommends two responses to it:
Simon Blackburn’s article in the Times Higher Education debunks the conflation between ‘student choice’ and ‘student need’; questions whether the elusive and emotional category of ‘student experience’ should at all be at the heart of educational policy; and analyses the reasons why research and teaching are ignored in the White Paper, even though they are so obviously entwined with any possible notion of quality of education.
Daniel Nehring’s analysis focusses of the on the other side of the ‘experience’ which is missing from the White Paper: that of people working in higher education. Nehring makes a strong case that ‘the rise of the research grant as the key indicator of academic prowess and entry ticket for a meaningful academic career‘, in conjunction with the recent cuts, are fostering the casualisation of academic labour; and that another part of the problem is that ‘universities and sociology departments […] recruit too many talented individuals to pursue doctorates without subsequently offering them opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the discipline.
The privatisation and full-on commercialisation of higher education currently underway seem likely to exacerbate trends towards a stratification of ‘the lecturer experience’ that have been unfolding for a number of years already. A select few PhD graduates, who have received their academic socialisation in elite universities, will be able to develop academic careers in those same institutions. For them, the integration of research and teaching will continue to be a meaningful concept. Another few will be able to move into permanent lectureships at the new second and third-tier teaching universities. They will spend their careers as teaching drones, reproducing second-hand sociological knowledge from textbooks for a mass audience of student-consumers. The ‘rest’ will either form an academic proletariat of part-time, short-term teachers and research assistants or drop out of academia altogether.
Categories: Higher Education