Pp. 73-78 (6)
Christina Chow and Clement Leung
This chapter looks at the changing relationship between the students and the
universities with increased marketisation of higher education. As students are
increasingly viewed as customers, academic education is reduced to student satisfaction
surveys, quality control, performance measures, quantification of the student
experience, and ranking and league tables. Critics have argued that commodification of
education leads to standardisation, formulaic teaching, and reducing quality into
quantity, intellectual rigour into customer service. Universities have embraced the
market logic of growth, competition and commercial techniques in promoting and
encouraging academic capitalism and entrepreneurship. There is also a change in
university governance reflecting the change in the dynamics of the three determining
forces: the state authority, the market and the academe. The spread of neoliberalism
and new public management have resulted in a market-oriented model of governance.
In this model, the institutional balance of power resides with the senior management
who has greater control in the selection and appointment of academic personnel. With
the strengthening of managerial control and weakening of academic affiliation,
universities are moving away from the traditional idea of academic self-governance and
the Humboldtian idea of a university. Universities are increasingly required to align
institutional priorities with national economic and social goals. Consequently, there is a
mixture of demands, including clearer accountability to society; contribution to equity
and expanded access; ensuring quality of teaching and learning are relevant to learner
and market needs; research feeding into industry and community engagement; and
contributing to internationalisation and international competitiveness. As a result,
academic freedom is under threat from this new form of institutional governance.
Academic capitalism, Academic self-governance, Customer
relationship management, Customer satisfaction, Grade inflation, New public
management, Positive marking, Power dynamics, Republic of scholars.
RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.