Ways to ruin universities and academic values

Business-Solutions

Much has been said about the academic’s burden of balancing teaching and research. Is the new university model helping?

Many academics seem overwhelmed by their teaching load. And the pressure to publish is a source of stress and anxiety when one fails to deliver. Worst-case scenario, one ends up enjoying neither the teaching nor the research. This in itself is a tragedy, since most people seek a career in academia exactly because they at some point loved both. What went wrong?

Universities have been pushed into adopting a business model with a number of its market liberalist implications. In some countries, universities have simply become businesses. A business wants value for money, and so do their consumers: the students. Teaching and research are products to be sold and purchased. Education, knowledge and intellectual growth are values insofar as they have measurable utility: in employability and prospective income analyses for our students, for instance.

Universities should be “professional”, “productive” and “internationally competitive”. To meet these market requirements, an increasing demand is placed on the academics for regular and high-quality research outputs. At the same time, teaching becomes more time consuming when outcomes are measured with student satisfaction surveys. Both teaching and research are thoroughly monitored, reported and ranked for the individual academic, their department and their institution.

I actually love teaching. And I love research. But I don’t love the capitalist business model or New Public Management in higher education. I think education, health and art are essential values that cannot and should not be translated into monetary or utilitarian values. If we as academics and academic institutions don’t put our foot down and say “Enough with this marked liberalist madness, already!”, then who will?

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