Marketisation of Higher Education in the context of UK

The following update is from Joshua Mead

Marketisation in HE; development over time in the UK…resurfacing in the context of modern times

  • A timeline

Abolition of subsidy for overseas’ students 1980

Introduction of selective research funding 1986

  • Rule change enabling institutions without research degree awarding powers to obtain a university title 2004

Introduction of variable fees of £3000 2006

  • Only Chile and Korea amongst member countries had a higher share of private expenditure on institutions than the UK’s 69.8 per cent 2011 (OECD, Education at a Glance, 2014, Table 3.2)
  • Maximum fees increased from £3375 to £9000 2012

Lifting of cap on number of students universities can enrol 2015

…our findings 2018

  • Professor Roger Brown (international authority on the application of market based policies to higher education at Liverpool John Hope), ‘The Marketisation of Higher Education: Issues and Ironies’, New Vistas, 1:1, pp. 4-9

We assume that, ‘marketisation is defined as the attempt to put the provision of higher education on a market basis, where the demand and supply of student education, academic research and other university activities are balanced through the price mechanism’, 4)

‘Marketisation necessarily turns higher education into an economic good, and this in itself is inimical (harmful) to the broader liberal notion of higher education being about the intellectual (and moral) development of the individual’, 6

  • Kathleen Lynch (Professor at University College Dublin), ‘Neo-Liberalism and Marketisation: The Implications for Higher Education’, European Educational Research Journal, 5:1 (2006), 1-17
  • With the rise of the New Right, neo-liberal agenda, there is an attempt to offload the cost of education, and indeed other public services such as housing, transport, care services etc., on to the individual. There is an increasing attempt to privatise public services, including higher education, so that citizens will have to buy them at market value rather than have them provided by the state

Notes on interdisciplinarity

The following update is from Anamika Madhuraj

Academic Tribes and Territories- Becher and Trowler – (2001)

Looks at changes in HE and the implications of this for ‘academic tribes’ and their territories. Some of the stuff in this reading can be linked to our research question about the wider politics in the UK.

HE system in the post-industrial environment-

  • Characterized by turbulent change, information overload, competitiveness, uncertainty and, sometimes, organizational decline.
  • For HE institutions- this has meant high levels of competition, scarce resources and new associated costs, as well as unpredictable fluctuations in enrolments and revenues.
  • For academics- this has meant the need to search for new, positive identities. (involved in vocational subjects and new disciplines and domains of knowledge)

Consequences of globalization for universities -patterns of incentives and disincentives

  • Financial constraint by the state on discretionary activities such as HE, necessitated by fierce international competition.
  • The growing centrality to HE of technoscience associated with international markets.
  • Increased focus on global intellectual property strategies within multinationals and established industrial countries, representing a new environment for university research. (Increased movement of products and processes form the university to the market).
  • Knowledge capital has increasingly been patented and protected by Industry Liaison Officers, acting as the guardians of university interests, rather than as a freely available contribution to the public good.
  • Also, growing convergence between the UK and USA as well as among other countries in the areas of science and technology policy, access, finance and university autonomy.

Triple Helix

Academia–industry–government relations- refer to the triple helix of academia- a key component of any national or multinational innovation strategy. In the contemporary context, innovations are increasingly likely to develop holistically rather than in a linear fashion and this involves transnational and interdisciplinary approaches.

Marketization of Knowledge

  • Deregulation of the system and ‘academic capitalism’- Market-like behaviours become common at both the institutional and the academic staff level.
  • Increased power of ‘customers’: students, employers and the government acting as a core buyer. British Students have moved from being ‘consumers in waiting’ to fully-fledged consumers since the introduction of student fees in 1998.
  • Increased rivalry among competitors- the threat of new rivals, including private industry and information technology on a global scale
  • Their location within the ‘largest single market in the world’- the European Union- means that students can move freely across a European HE network.
  • Some, but by no means all, universities are becoming more entrepreneurial and less and less reliant on state grants. -Is this true for KCL?

Introduction to interdisciplinary studies-

  • Negativity and resistance Vs. enthusiastic adoption of change
  • Undermine and re-work existing disciplines. De-professionalization and loss of the bonds that once tied the academic ‘community’
  • However, despite disciplinary fragmentation, there are still unifying factors, sustained by intellectual exchange, which helps to ensure that the centre of the academic community still holds. – ‘interlocking cultural communities’

HE mirroring wider politics?

Post-Fordist patterns of employment –

  • Academics are increasingly stratified, with more internal hierarchies and divisions stimulated by the need for managerial flexibility.
  • Increased rigidification of the division of labour, more varied conditions of employment, greater differentiation in staff contracts and roles and more tightly defined areas of responsibility.
  • These divisions are symptoms mirror fundamental forces, including the fragmentation of research arising from both the greater emphasis on teaching needs in mass HE systems and the political imperatives of economy and efficiency (Clark 1991).

‘If knowledge is power, then new knowledge is the new power, expanded knowledge is expanded power, and fragmented knowledge is fragmented power’ (Clark 1987: 273).

‘The mixed-message curriculum’-Graff (2003)

This is the experience of a Liberal Arts student-

  • The student as the double agent/ The student as volleyball

As students move from one class to another, they become a kind of volleyball, batted back and forth in an intellectual game whose rules change without notice from course to course. For instance, students can go from a class in which knowledge is assumed to be objective to another class in which knowledge is assumed to be a social construction. Or from a class where knowledge is considered something to be handed down by authority, to a class in which knowledge is seen as something students themselves construct through dialogue.

‘Who wouldn’t be dazed when the beliefs that were pronounced dead in one’s morning class turn up alive and well after lunch?’

Students cope well with this Volleyball Effect, doing an excellent job on their own of connecting what their teachers do not, making up individual versions of the academic conversation out of noncommunicating courses. For such students, the curriculum represents not a coherent intellectual world with conventions and practices anyone can internalize and apply to the specific challenges of each discipline, but an endless series of instructors’ preferences.

  • Towards a comparative curriculum

We need to explore ways of putting courses into a conversation. Some strategies: teacher swapping (instructors visit or teach each other’s classes), student symposia based on common texts taught in different courses and departments, and visiting lectures and lecture series that bring together courses around common issues and problems.

  • Issues to consider-

In collaborating with colleagues, instructors give up the luxury of doing as they please, and they risk making things more confusing for students rather than less. Merely coming together with colleagues does not automatically make academic work more exciting or clear—it takes considerable effort, planning, and trial and error.


Being interdisciplinary is so very hard to do– Fish (1989)-dated?

The current arrangement of things as represented by

  • The social structures by means of which the lines of political authority are maintained
  • The institutional structures by means of which the various academic disciplines establish and extend their territorial claims.

This is attacked by the left (Marxism, feminism, the radical version of neo-pragmatism) and some right parties. They regard specialization and activities tied narrowly to disciplinary pressures with suspicion.

  • At the heart of that argument is the assumption that the lines currently demarcating one field of study from another are not natural but constructed by interested parties who have a stake in preserving the boundaries that sustain their claims to authority.
  • Knowledge is frozen in a form supportive of the status quo. Once knowledge has been compartmentalized, the energy of intellectuals is spent within the spaces provided by a superstructure that is never critically examined.

The present disciplinary divisions conceal the relationality of supposedly independent enterprises and prevent us from seeing that they are nothing ‘in themselves’ and that they constitute each other as mutually interdependent determinations (Michael Ryan p.53).

One who uncritically accepts the autonomy of his or her ‘home enterprise’ and remains unaware of the system of forces that supports and is supported by that enterprise will never be able to address those forces and thereby take part in the alteration of that system. -are students and teachers in the liberal arts agents of change?

By definition interdisciplinary studies do exactly that, refuse to respect the boundaries that disciplines want always to draw, and thus encourage a widening of perspectives.

‘…an assault on those boundaries and on the entire edifice of hierarchy and power they reflect and sustain. If you begin by transgressing the boundaries, say, between literature and economics as academic fields of study, you are halfway to transgressing the boundaries between the academy and its supposed outside’ (p.17).

Some epistemological confusions-

Interdisciplinary at odds with the epistemology that often accompanies it?

Epistemology here- deconstructive or psychoanalytic. ‘meanings do not exist as such, but are produced’. What they are produced by is a system of articulation from which we as either speakers or hearers cannot distance ourselves, because we are situated within it. That is to say, the truth one would know has always receded behind the formulations it makes possible. So, the pedagogy demanded by interdisciplinarity is the refusal of knowledge in favour of that which it occludes. Ie. a new way of teaching, one that calls into question the very foundations of the discipline.

This poses a dampening question? From what vantage point will the ‘structures that organize how we know’ be revealed?? The strategy of ‘making visible what was hidden’ can only be pursued within forms of thought that are themselves hidden; the bringing to light of what Edward Said calls ‘the network of agencies that limit, select, shape, and maintain’ meaning requires the dark background of a network that cannot be seen because it is within it that seeing occurs (34-35).

  • Or more simply: The blurring of existing authoritative disciplinary lines and boundaries will only create new lines and new authorities; the interdisciplinary impulse finally does not liberate us from the narrow confines of academic ghettos to something more capacious; it merely redomiciles us in enclosures that do not advertise themselves as such!!
  • The impossibility of authentic critique is the impossibility of the interdisciplinary project.
  • Does the practice of importing into one’s practice the machinery of other practices operate to relax the constraints of one’s practice? No, because the imported product will always have the form of its appropriation rather than the form it exhibits ‘at home’. -Is this always the case? Do the interdisciplinary researches at KCL (materials, concepts, and vocabularies take on the colouring of the enterprise that houses them)

What is happening in interdisciplinary projects?

  • Either scholars engage in straightforwardly disciplinary tasks that require for their completion information and techniques on loan from other disciplines
  • Or they are working within a particular discipline at a moment when it is expanding into territories hitherto marked as belonging to someone else- participating, that is, in the annexation
  • Typically the members of this new discipline will represent themselves as anti-disciplinary, that is, as interdisciplinary, but in fact, as Daniel Schon points out, they will constitute a “new breed” of “counter professionals/experts”– [Is this true for Kcl staff?]


Defining Interdisciplinary Studies -Allen (2012)

Two Types-

  • Generalist interdisciplinarians: understand interdisciplinarity loosely to mean ‘any form of dialogue or interaction between two or more disciplines’ while minimizing, obscuring, or rejecting altogether the role of integration (Moran, 2010, p. 14).
  • Integrationist interdisciplinarians: believe that integration should be the goal of interdisciplinary work because integration addresses the challenge of complexity. – concerned with developing a distinctively interdisciplinary theory-based research process.

‘Inter’ refers to contested space/ an in-between space. The most interdisciplinary study examines this contested terrain—problems, issues, or questions that are the focus of several disciplines. The important point is that the disciplines are not the focus of the interdisciplinarian’s attention; the focus is the problem or issue or intellectual question that each discipline is addressing. The disciplines are simply a means to that end.

The result of this integration: cognitive advancement- a more comprehensive understanding. Knowledge/ theory- Interdisciplinary studies does not lay claim to a universally recognized core of knowledge but rather draws on existing disciplinary knowledge while always transcending it via integration.

Research Method- Interdisciplinary studies have a research process of its own to produce knowledge but freely borrows methods from the disciplines when appropriate

New Knowledge -Interdisciplinary studies, like the disciplines, seeks to produce new knowledge, but, unlike them, it seeks to accomplish this via the process of integration; to construct a more comprehensive understanding;

Knowledge production- refers to scholarly research published in the form of peer-reviewed articles and books. The discussion about interdisciplinarity is a dialogue about innovation—that is, change—in the means of knowledge production. (Against the point from prev reading: The impossibility of authentic critique is the impossibility of the interdisciplinary project.)

The work of interdisciplinary studies has three aspects.

  • The work of integrating knowledge – is this also done by students? (Ref to Graff’s reading)
  • The work of recognizing and confronting differences- looks for common ground despite those differences, and seeks to produce an understanding that takes those differences into account. (Does this overcome Fish’s critique?)
  • Interdisciplinarity is used to describe a research process- refers to the process used to study a complex problem/issue/question, not to the problem/issue/question itself. The ‘HOW’ part. (When interviewing KCL staff- see if they follow this pattern during interdisciplinary research!)

Why define?

  • As a maturing academic field, interdisciplinary studies need to define itself to make the case that interdisciplinarity is, in fact, contributing something distinctive and valuable to the academy and to society at large.
  • A common conception of interdisciplinary studies will facilitate communication among faculty and students from different disciplines who are conducting interdisciplinary research and/or applying for grants. (Does this exist in the liberal arts department?)
  • An agreed-upon definition will enable the meaningful assessment of student work, program effectiveness, and academic scholarship. Evaluation of student work is made more difficult where there is confusion about what interdisciplinarity is, what student learning outcomes should be assessed, and which outcomes are distinctive to interdisciplinary learning (Repko, 2008, p. 171).

Some existing definitions

  • Klein and Newell (1997, p.393-394): [Interdisciplinary studies is] a process of answering a question, solving a problem, or addressing a topic that is too broad or complex to be dealt with adequately by a single discipline or profession . . . and draws on disciplinary perspectives and integrates their insights through the construction of a more comprehensive perspective.
  • Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research (2005, p.26): a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice.
  • Diana Rhoten, Veronica Boix Mansilla, Marc Chun, and Julie T. Klein in Interdisciplinary Education at Liberal Arts Institutions (2006, p.3): a mode of curriculum design and instruction in which individual faculty or teams identify, evaluate, and integrate information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of knowledge to advance students’ capacity to understand issues, address problems, and create new approaches and solutions that extend beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of instruction.
  • Veronica Boix Mansilla (2005, p.16): Interdisciplinarity is the capacity to integrate knowledge and modes of thinking drawn from two or more disciplines to produce a cognitive advancement in ways that would have been unlikely through single disciplinary means. (Focused on the outcome)
  • William Newell (2007, p.248): a two-part process- it draws critically on disciplinary perspectives, and it integrates their insights into a more comprehensive understanding . . . of an existing complex phenomenon [or into] the creation of a new complex phenomenon.

From all this- a singular definition

Interdisciplinary studies is a process of answering a question, solving a problem, or addressing a topic that is too broad or complex to be dealt with adequately by a single discipline and draws on the disciplines with the goal of integrating their insights to construct a more comprehensive understanding.

Interdisciplinarity-Moran (2010) -Introduction + Conclusion

We cannot interdisciplinarity without first examining existing disciplines since interdisciplinary work is always in engagement with them.

Defining interdisciplinary- The term ‘interdisciplinarity’ emerged within the context of anxieties about the limitations of existing definitions. -The term indicates the search for a wide-ranging and total knowledge; It also represents a radical questioning of knowledge itself and our attempts to organise it.The term can mean establishing a connection b/w existing disciplines, but it could also mean a kind of undisciplined space b/w disciplines (the term ‘inter’).

Interdisciplinarity today- ‘interdisciplinary as a term that is as fraught as it is fashionable’ (Huggan 2002, p.255). Presently there is a minor backlash against interdisciplinary + a desire to explore more clearly its claims about being transgressive.

Some Criticisms-

  • As western universities become ‘transnational bureaucratic corporations’ and pursue profit, the malleable nature of the term ‘interdisciplianry’ can be easily appropriated in pursuit of the market-oriented university aims. -ie, interdisciplinary only in name. (Readings 1996, p.39). The idea of interdisciplinary has much to do with budgets and market demands. Merging depts. into interdisciplinary programs can be a form of downsizing and cost-cutting. Also, appealing to student consumers?
  • To be interdisciplinary you need to be disciplinary first — to be grounded in one discipline, preferably two. -To know the historicity of these discourses. (Foster 1998, p.162).
  • There is a politics to interdisciplinary that is not merely intellectual: academic teaching and research do not occur in a vacuum. Universities are territorial institution and academics engage in ‘turf wars’ with colleagues in other departments. Routine calls for interdisciplinary researchers- ‘complicit with a marketisation approach that suggests research is about the production of new commodifiable ideas and endless novelty’ (Docherty 2009, p.25).
  • Imperative to be interdisciplinary is really about govt wanting to control the ideas and research produced by academics, to make them marketable. (Eg- UK’s govt funded research council – allocate funds and talk up about interdisciplinary research)

The utility of a Liberal Arts degree

The following post is from JOSHUA MEAD

These are some more additional readings that we utilised for furthering our research.

John P. Bradley, ‘Why Liberal Arts?’ International Social Scene Review, 60:4 (1985), pp. 176-180

  • ‘this broad educational approach to the development of the total person contrasts sharply with the narrowly specialized training that is the goal of the professional disciplines’ (176)
  • ‘eminent historian, the late Christopher Dawson, said some years ago that in his opinion, only three major changes have engulfed the Western world since the time of Christ: 1) the Dark Ages 2) the Protestant reformation, and 3) the Industrial Revolution. In our times we have been caught up in the fourth great change: The Technological Revolution. It seems rather obvious to me that this change generated by the Technological Revolution has had much to do with today’s enormous demand for the narrowly trained graduate and the consequent lack of interest in the broadly educated liberal arts graduate’ (177)
  • ‘too often we confuse mere information with knowledge. True knowledge is acquired by the active working of the mind on information, by the hard work of thinking’ (178)
  • ‘Newman…tells us that we must strive to interrelate these various studies one to the other. He says that the true pursuit of knowledge occurs “when we refer what we learn to what we already know…when we possess the knowledge not only of things but also of their mutual and true relations…The mind is not reckoned as enlightened unless this analytical, distinctive, harmonizing process is present”. In other words, Newman teaches us that we obtain a good education when our mind actively works on our wide reading and information, relating it, analysing it, judging it’ (177)
  • Corporate expectations (for a specialized education) are wrong and setting back humanity, because there are less people educated to think and be a complete human being in positions of influence
  • ‘a good undergraduate education ought to be concerned with the broad cultivation of the mind and with the building of a sound value system that can give us deep meaning and purpose in our lives’ (180)

 Tricia A. Seifert et al, ‘The Effects of Liberal Arts Experiences on Liberal Arts Outcomes’, Research in Higher Education, 49:2 (2008), pp. 107-125

  • The Yale Report of 1828 saying how a traditional liberal arts curriculum is the best means to prepare for a changing society
  • Aristotle’s 350 BCE differentiation between “liberal” and “illiberal” education
  • ‘educators struggle to determine not only the purpose if a (university) education, but in what manner that purpose is best achieved’ (108)
  • Liberal arts courses, opposed to “professionally motivated” courses yielded ‘positive effects on openness to diversity/challenge and learning for its own sake, but negative effects on mathematics and science reasoning’ (109)
  • ‘recently, a host of scholars have extolled the benefits of an environment in which those areas once believed to be separate and distinct (eg., in-class versus out-of-class; curricular versus co-curricular)’ (110)
  • ‘for centuries, advocates of liberal arts education have asserted that it is the best means of education. The current study provided empirical evidence for the benefits of liberal arts education and an operational model for measuring it’ (122-3)
  • 115-121 has some interesting data…the way they organise it could be a useful example…

Mark Salmon & Glenn Gritzer, ‘Liberal Arts in the Studio Classroom: A Survey of Art Faculty’ Visual Arts Research, 16:2 (1990), pp. 59-78

  • From 15th Century European art guilds onwards, ‘familiarity with anatomy, geometry, poetry, and philosophy became part of the requisite intellectual background for the emerging “gentleman artist”, thus establishing artists as peers among their wealthy patrons’ (60)
  • ‘over 90 percent of the art faculty respondents reported introducing liberal arts subject matter and themes into their studio art classes. Slightly over one half of these users reported that they “often” introduced the liberal arts’ (62)
  • ‘in the education of artists, as in other fields, attention and debate need to continue to be focussed on how institutional factors facilitate or hinder the achievement of educational goals’ (69)





Literature on Liberal Arts

The following update is from JOSHUA MEAD 

Apologies for this delayed update. I don’t have access to this blog either.

Michael Delucchi, ‘”Liberal Arts” Colleges and the Myth of Uniqueness’, The Journal of Higher Education, 68:4 (1997), pp. 414-426

  • Institutions compelled to ‘abandon or sharply scale back their arts and sciences curriculum in order to accommodate student preoccupation with the immediate job market’ (414)
  • ‘to what extent are liberal arts claims made by (institutions) with curricula dominated by professional disciplines?’ (415)
  • ‘students receive a liberal arts education that challenges them to excel in the humanities, the sciences, and the arts; cultivates social values; and inspires lifetimes goals’ (from Peterson’s Guide to Four Year Colleges, 1993, p. 1822)
  • ‘liberal learning can and does occur outside the domain of liberal arts (degrees)’ (419)
  • ‘retaining a liberal arts claim strengthens attachments and loyalties to the institution and its public image’ (421)
  • ‘maintaining the “liberal arts” myth symbolizes the environment within which it was created – especially those beliefs that define what higher education is and what it can do’ (421)
  • ‘the percentage of degrees awarded in the arts and sciences between 1968 and 1986 dropped from 47% to 26%’ (424) …has this continued to drop?


Gudmund R. Iversen, ‘Statistics in Liberal Arts Education’, The American Statistician, 39:1 (1985), pp. 17-19

  • ‘a liberal arts education trains a person to understand the world better and become a functioning, contributing member of this world. After acquiring such a background in the liberal arts, the person’s natural next step is to acquire the necessary skills needed for a profession’ (17)
  • ‘liberal arts education is not a static list of classical subjects; it is an education offering the best of what the arts and sciences, including statistics, currently provide so that students can develop an understanding of themselves and the society in which they live’ (17)


  • ‘a recent survey suggests that 74% of American CEOs would recommend a liberal arts education to students who want to make successes of their careers. The executives cited the short supply of graduates capable of creative thinking and good communication’

Points towards D.D.Guttenplan, ‘In Britain, a Return to the Idea of the Liberal Arts’, NY Times

Starr Miller, ‘Liberal Arts: Curriculum of Spirit?’ The Clearing House, 40:4 (1965), pp. 226-7

  • ‘broad, inspiring, and powerfully affirmed programs, are often presented as ideal places to influence values’ (226)
  • ‘the teachings of Aristotle indicate his belief that liberal studies are connected with free men engaged in inquiry that is free and unhampered. Liberal arts then, comes to be more a concept than a curriculum’ (226)
  • ‘the spirit of free and independent inquiry designed to produce liberated minds’ (226)
  • ‘to awaken…intellectual curiosity, to improve…social responsibility, and to make him a happier human being, unhampered by prejudice or narrowmindedness’ (226)
  • ‘not much is done to define the…concept of liberal arts, and when the curriculum is analysed further it becomes obvious that there is no curriculum that is singular, distinctive, and common to…liberal arts (courses)’ (227)
  • ‘it has overslept its opportunity to make that distinction in a “curriculum of the liberal arts”. The opportunity is to be found in the reflection of the spirit of the liberal arts. A spirit of the liberal arts can live in any curriculum’ (227)

Previous Literature Review

The following post is from ANDRE LEGARZA

Sorry, but I still don’t have access to the blog. These are some of the readings that we utilised for this research work. I meant to post this earlier.

Politics | Higher Education

On the difference between: The politics of higher education, Higher education and politics, The politics within higher education etc.

Kimball, Roger. Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education. ERIC, 1990.

see a review — Hirsch, Herbert. “Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education by Roger Kimball. New York: Harper & Row, 1990, 204 Pp., Hardcover. (Isbn 0-06-016190-6).” The Educational Forum 55, no. 3 (1991/09/30 1991): 285-88.

Kimball frames his book as an expose – a “true” picture of how the humanities are taught in the contemporary university. His theme is that the teaching of the humanities is in a “state of crisis” (p. xi), because it has been taken over by “Proponents of deconstruction, feminist studies, and other politically motivated challenges to the traditional tenets of humanistic study . .. .” (p. xi). This is a “crisis” as opposed to the normal process of academic debate and change because, as Kimball sees it, the “tradition of high culture embodied in the classics of Western art and thought” are under attack and the object of these academic radicals is to destroy the “values, methods, and goals of humanistic study” (p. xi). –Herbert Hirsch, review

“Not only are Western tradition and culture under attack, there is an all out “war against Western culture,” and this is demonstrated most clearly, according to Kimball, by the attack on what he refers to as “the traditional literary canon and the pedagogical values it embodies” (p. xii). He is upset because there are college courses on Bugs Bunny and on rock music. Kimball believes that popular culture is “granted parity with (or even precedence over) the most important cultural achievements of our civilization” (pp. xii-xiii), But what university has he observed? Is this “crisis” which he identifies a trend, or is it a debate over what should be taught in the humanities? Is it a fact , as Kimball presents it, that Bugs Bunny has now replaced Plato? According to him this is the way the humanities are taught at all universities. He bases this conclusion on his analysis of several academic conferences at elite universities and on his dislike for the English Department at Duke University. I want to assure Mr. Kimball that Plato is still regarded as more important, but perhaps less entertaining, than Bugs Bunny, and that, at least at the university with which I am associated, there are far more courses on the classics than on the cartoons. Granted I do not have data to confirm my suspicion, Kimball does not either.” –Herbert Hirsch, review

Interesting piece to read—at least parts. This work can be used to start problematizing higher education more generally. But even more powerfully, Kimball’s work can (and has been) used to show a connection between broader politics and higher education. His thesis relies on the fact that the politics of the 60s and 70s is what is corrupting higher education. According to Kimball, the radical students of the 60s and 70s are now the tenured professors of today. So how can one disconnect politics from higher education—or more specifically, radical politics?


Hines, Edward R, and Leif S Hartmark. Politics of Higher Education.  Vol. 7: Wiley Online Library, 1980.

“In their 1980 bibliographic essay, Hines and Hartmark claim to have dispelled the notion that there are few source materials on the politics of higher education. However, much of the literature cited by the authors takes the form of dissertations, non-published works, and sources dealing with internal politics of institutional governance.”

This is a research piece that really establishes the ‘politics of higher education’. “The political relationship between the state and higher education has expanded greatly in recent years, encompassing issues such as the position of private colleges and universities, accountability to the legislature, and lobbying efforts. A recent report by the Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education (1980) suggests that the relationship of higher education to the state will become even more critical in the future. With declining enrollments and shrinking state resources, the future vitality of both public and private higher education will increasingly be influenced by decisions made in the statehouse.”

The authors continue to more robustly delineate the types of politics within higher education and the effects of politics within higher education. More importantly, they claim, “The context in which schools and colleges operate is political. If one accepts the allocation of preferences as basic to policy making, then the internal dynamics of the policy process and organizational decision making involve inherently nit not exclusively political relationships among actors and groups. Indeed, the separation of education from politics was based more on belief than on fact, and, in fact. the university was “at or near the center of the governmental-political” spectrum (Waldo 1970, p. 107).

For our piece—this research report really introduces, quite well, methodological approaches that come from different disciplines in its construction. For instance, the paper has sections on ‘concepts from political science’ and ‘contributions from other disciplines’. Quite possibly, we can follow a similar route when designing our research endeavor.

Chou, Meng-Hsuan, Isaac Kamola, and Tamson Pietsch. The Transnational Politics of Higher Education: Contesting the Global/Transforming the Local. Routledge, 2016.

It is a collection of essays that “introduces readers to the relationship between higher education and transnational politics. It shows how higher education is a significant arena for regional and international transformation as well as domestic political struggle replete with unequal power relations.”

“Drawing on case studies from across the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe, the contributors develop diverse perspectives explaining the impact of transnational politics on higher education—and higher education on transitional politics—across time and locality. This book is among the first multi-disciplinary effort to wrestle with the question of how we can understand the political role of higher education, and the political force universities exert in the realm of international relations.”

This is a piece that can provide us some other works on higher education and transnational politics, if our research goals move in this direction. I was not really interested in all the essays, so the only one that I was interested in, I pulled out and did a separate review on. But I wanted to leave this in here, as it would be a valuable resource if we continue on this topic.


McVitty, Debbie, and R Brooks. “The Politics of Higher Education Funding in the Uk Student Movement 1996-2010.” Student Politics and Protest: International Perspectives  (2016): 97-111.

This piece is a chapter within a larger collection of edited works that more general focuses on social movements, esp. student driven, within the higher education landscape. I found this chapter an interesting and important inclusion to my lit review, as it would provide a good overview of growing ‘tensions’ within higher education within the UK. Possibly, Joshua found this already. Moreover, it discusses the politics of higher education funding, and gives an overview of some of the political struggles behind funding higher education.

Mettler, Suzanne. Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream. Basic Books (AZ), 2014.

 see a review — Schwartz, Joseph M. “A Discussion of Suzanne Mettler’s Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream.” Perspectives on Politics 14, no. 2 (2016): 486-89.

“In Degrees of Inequality, acclaimed political scientist Suzanne Mettler explains why the system has gone so horribly wrong and why the American Dream is increasingly out of reach for so many. In her eye-opening account, she illuminates how political partisanship has overshadowed America s commitment to equal access to higher education. As politicians capitulate to corporate interests, owners of for-profit colleges benefit, but for far too many students, higher education leaves them with little besides crippling student loan debt. Meanwhile, the nation’s public universities have shifted the burden of rising costs onto students. In an era when a college degree is more linked than ever before to individual and societal well-being, these pressures conspire to make it increasingly difficult for students to stay in school long enough to graduate.”

To start, we should not let Mettler’s American focus detract from her approach. If interested, there is a very interesting lecture that she gives on the topic at Cornell:

For Mettler there is a robust connectivity between politics and higher education. If public policy changes—so does higher education. No one can separate the two arenas. She uses basic political science to approach this, looking at policy drift, the effects of policy, etc. However, in Schwartz’s review, neo-liberalism can cause all of these problems to grow. These neoliberal cuts in federal and state funding for higher education led to the decline in access to higher education and also to the 30-year inexorable growth in exploited and contingent academic labor. In the mid1970s, the maximum Pell Grant covered 80% of tuition and room and board at the average four-year state university. Today, it covers only 31% of such costs. Tuition at state universities rose 244% (nearly twice the rate of inflation) from 1980 to 2010, in part because of a more than 30% drop in state funding of higher education. This rise in tuition and drop in the real value of grants exacerbated the differential between students from affluent versus modest economic backgrounds in regards to both enrollment rates and graduation rates. Today, while 71% of individuals from the top quarter of family incomes will earn a college degree by age 24, only 10% from the bottom quartile will do so, and only 15% from the second-lowest quartile.”

Schwartz’s review provides good insight into Mettler’s original work—and should provide some more lit on the connection between historical political approaches to higher education and new approaches that take into account the effects of neoliberalism.

Armstrong, Lloyd. “Barriers to Innovation and Change in Higher Education.” URL: “”  (2016).

I included this piece because it is actually pretty well cited. The report has some 80 citations—being just published two years ago. Anyway, this report focuses on ‘innovation’ within ‘higher education’. How is this political? Well the report focuses a decent amount on different external barriers to innovations within higher education that are quite political—in nature and form. However, once again, this piece does focus on the US when it looks at Higher Education. Something we should definitely better situate our literature around and account for in our presentation if we are using lit that originates, at least empirically, from the US.

For instance, the report focuses on accreditation and other DOE policy within the US when it comes to innovation within Higher Education: “The federal government maintained a fairly laissez faire attitude toward higher education until the end of World War II, when the GI Bill sent millions of new students into higher education at government expense. Vannevar Bush’s enormously influential report Science: The Endless Frontier (Bush, 1945) released at the time emphasized the role of education in creating “scientific capital” and argued that the government had an obligation to fund major research programs at universities. Increasing federal funds brought on increasing federal oversight: Upon passage of the Korean GI Bill in 1952, Congress decided to “outsource” educational quality control to the accreditors. Accreditors’ role in determining eligibility for federal educational funds was further strengthened by the Higher Education Act of 1965 and its subsequent reauthorizations. By then accreditation had shifted far from a voluntary process, since most institutions would have trouble surviving without federal educational funds. The Department of Education is responsible for “accrediting the accreditors,” that is, for determining which accreditors are reliable partners in maintaining educational quality. More on this in the discussion of government as a barrier to change below.”

The authors would claim that an important takeaway from this piece would be that when it comes to innovation within higher education, that “the first thing to remember about government is that it is all about politics and power. These attributes tend not to be favorable to innovation.” However, we could build on this—showing how government policy does not only effect innovations within higher education. Government policy has much more profound effects on the design of higher education and its day to day realities. Take for instance, the upcoming strikes.

Phipps, Alison, and Isabel Young. “Neoliberalisation and ‘Lad Cultures’ in Higher Education.” Sociology 49, no. 2 (2015): 305-22.

This piece is quite different than all the others I have mentioned—but I felt this would be an interesting inclusion, as it might bring us into a different approach to Higher Education—an approach that might be less political, at least, on the surface.

“This paper links higher education neoliberalisation and ‘lad cultures’, drawing on interviews and focus groups with women students. We argue that retro-sexist ‘laddish’ forms of masculine competitiveness and misogyny have been reshaped by neoliberal rationalities to become modes of consumerist sexualized audit. We also suggest that neoliberal frameworks scaffold an individualistic and adversarial culture among young people that interacts with perceived threats to men’s privilege and intensifies attempts to put women in their place through misogyny and sexual harassment. Furthermore, ‘lad cultures’, sexism and sexual harassment in higher education may be invisible by institutions to preserve marketability in a neoliberal context. In response, we ask if we might foster dialogue and partnership between feminist and anti-marketization politics”

But the paper moves on to include a decent discussion on neoliberalisation of Higher education institutions. The paper claims that the institutions themselves can create and led to ‘lad cultures’. For instance, institutions have been criticized and cited for covering up crime statistics, especially in the US. Moreover, the institution can encourage students to drop complaints. In other words—these institutions start to neoliberalize and become complicit in overlooking harassment and violence.

The main take I got out of this paper is when approaching neoliberalism or politics within higher education, we also have to think about what the institution or university is. For instance, within a neo-liberalism reality, these institutions actually act quite ‘neoliberally’.

Garritzmann, Julian L. The Political Economy of Higher Education Finance: The Politics of Tuition Fees and Subsidies in Oecd Countries, 1945–2015. Springer, 2016.

Similar to the piece on Higher Education finances within the UK from 1996-2010, this piece provides a much broader and historical overview of higher education finances across OECD countries. I included this piece possibly for Joshua to look at more in depth, if he thinks it can be used. But I also liked this piece as it brings in a dialogue of ‘political economy’. Quite possibly, this might be the ‘political’ dialogue that works best when we are approaching higher education. Because what is higher education really when it comes to ‘politics’? i.e. how is it political. Possibly we should be looking more at the political economy of higher education—not necessarily the politics of higher education.

Works Cited

Armstrong, Lloyd. “Barriers to Innovation and Change in Higher Education.” URL: https://www. tiaainstitute. org/public/pdf/barriers-to-innovation-and-change-in-higher-education. pdf (дата обращения: 22.03. 2016)  (2016).

Chou, Meng-Hsuan, Isaac Kamola, and Tamson Pietsch. The Transnational Politics of Higher Education: Contesting the Global/Transforming the Local. Routledge, 2016.

Erkkilä, Tero. “Global University Rankings and Transnational Politics of Higher Education.” The Transnational Politics of Higher Education: Contesting the Global/Transforming the Local  (2016): 178.

Garritzmann, Julian L. The Political Economy of Higher Education Finance: The Politics of Tuition Fees and Subsidies in Oecd Countries, 1945–2015. Springer, 2016.

Hines, Edward R, and Leif S Hartmark. Politics of Higher Education.  Vol. 7: Wiley Online Library, 1980.

Hirsch, Herbert. “Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education by Roger Kimball. New York: Harper & Row, 1990, 204 Pp., Hardcover. (Isbn 0-06-016190-6).” The Educational Forum 55, no. 3 (1991/09/30 1991): 285-88.

Kimball, Roger. Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education. ERIC, 1990.

McVitty, Debbie, and R Brooks. “The Politics of Higher Education Funding in the Uk Student Movement 1996-2010.” Student Politics and Protest: International Perspectives  (2016): 97-111.

Mettler, Suzanne. Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream. Basic Books (AZ), 2014.

Phipps, Alison, and Isabel Young. “Neoliberalisation and ‘Lad Cultures’ in Higher Education.” Sociology 49, no. 2 (2015): 305-22.

Robertson, Susan L, Kris Olds, Roger Dale, and Que Anh Dang. Global Regionalisms and Higher Education: Projects, Processes, Politics. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016.

Schwartz, Joseph M. “A Discussion of Suzanne Mettler’s Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream.” Perspectives on Politics 14, no. 2 (2016): 486-89.



Notes from Google Docs.

Summary of notes (group discussion):

Does the privileged, capitalist nature of exhibited art desensitise our perceptions of conflict?

Discussion of relevant themes… spectatorship (the gaze)

What type of art/ conflict?

Sontag = numbing response to art, or inspire action? Readings provide starting point for argument.

Are we even in an age of terror? What does that mean? Discourse of age of terror

Narrowing how we interpret art/conflict…

Art you pay to see… exhibited.

Art that has a certain purpose.

Art can encompass many forms/ mediums.

Performance of visitors to exhibited art.

“You should have a sign”… discussion of conversation overheard at the exhibition.

Strict atmosphere, assistant asked a lady, very authoritatively, to put her camera away, that no pictures were allowed. Her response being to say there should be a sign… questioning the etiquette of the environment…

General structure:

What we mean by conflict
What we mean by art
Interpretation of sub disciplines.

Grappling with ‘interdisciplinarity’ – 22nd March

The following update is from ANAMIKA MADHURAJ

In our final TAD meeting with Sophie, we discussed the different ways in which we could demonstrate our work as an interdisciplinary output. This is something we struggled with from the very start of this project. Doing a research on interdisciplinarity while also justifying it to be interdisciplinary is confusing! It was very helpful when our team was reminded that we should try and compartmentalise the research from the reflections of it.

Although we first attempted to demonstrate the interdisciplinarity of our work by showing its adherence to existing definitions, we couldn’t locate a consensus in the literature for the definition. There are also many questions that we have to answer if we follow this line of logic-

  • How exactly have we drawn on insights from our individual disciplines in answering our research question?
  • More importantly, can we argue that our research question required the assistance of insights from diverse disciplines?
  • Did we transcend disciplinary boundaries (in terms of research methods, themes or concepts) and produce a new knowledge?

Conversely, we have also come to the understanding that even if our research does not draw on various established disciplines, our research process itself relies on integrating interdisciplinary research methods, thus making this project faithful to the interdisciplinary ambitions of this module. At this point, I believe we should think more critically about the interdisciplinary label, formation of disciplines and finally the influence of our past academic experiences on the way we approach this project.

Interviewing staff within the Liberal Arts department- 21st March

The following update is from ANAMIKA MADHURAJ

In order to assess if the rise of an interdisciplinary agenda in the academia is in line with the wider marketisation forces, it is important to gain the opinions of those with real exposure to interdisciplinary projects- the academics within the Liberal Arts department. I felt we were moving in the right direction when the staff I requested for interviews welcomed the invitation and showed their enthusiasm in donating time for this research project.

In our meetings, the interviewees discussed their enjoyments and struggles in designing interdisciplinary modules, moving beyond their own disciplines and producing research work that applies interdisciplinary research methods. A really interesting finding is that everyone in the department seems to have diverse, yet somewhat overlapping, definitions for the term ‘interdisciplinarity’. Many of the conceptual nuances boil down to the crossing of disciplinary boundaries for the production of a new knowledge.

We were also able to understand to some extent the attractiveness of interdisciplinary label when it comes to publishing opportunities. The participants also shared how their identity as an academic and their understandings about their disciplines and ‘interdisciplinarity’ have shifted over time. We were also made privy to some of the details regarding the recruitment process for staff, the main ‘selling points’ of the Liberal Arts degree and the politics operating behind its creation at King’s. In short, there are certainly some (market and financial) incentives for the continued maintenance and growing popularity of the Liberal Arts degree.

Where are we going with this? The existential crisis of our project [Update for week 4-5 when the blog was down]

The following update is made by ANAMIKA MADHURAJ

Mid-way through our research, our project faced something akin to an existential crisis. We couldn’t quite locate the purpose of our work. We had some general ideas of interest but not a definite research question. There were two lines of research that we thought were worth pursuing:

  1. The marketisation of higher education and the industrial action happening around King’s.

2. The growth of interdisciplinary studies and research works in the academia.

Although it was difficult to see how both of these could be combined, after many hours of deliberation, it finally crystallised that we should utilise the marketisation of HE as the context within which to situate the growing popularity for interdisciplinarity. Therefore, our primary research question now is- What is the role of marketisation of higher education in the manifestation of interdisciplinary projects. In other words, we are trying to explore the extent to which the Liberal Arts degree and interdisciplinary research works undertaken at King’s are a product or outcome of market demands.We are happy that we now have a defined research question to work on. My initial ethics form and the subsequent updated version of it remind me that reaching this point required many discussions and disagreements.

Presenting a Compelling Narrative


It seems as if my (Andre) posts are not registering in WordPress from my account, so is one of the posts I previously authored.

There is a lot of well-produced research all over the world, printed every day. But how do you make your research stand out—and, more importantly, matter? For me, this is quite perplexing. One can spend hours researching how police influence protests but that does not mean anyone will read their work. And when I entered this research project, I thought that our topic might end up quite trivial, in that no one would really care about what we were investigating. But the more and more we talk to people about our research project, the more I realize that we might actually be onto something.

However, even if research is ‘onto something’, that does not mean it matters. My group gets a bit annoyed at me when I say that our research should present a compelling narrative, but in all honesty, good research, that matters, always does. Just think about it. If you are presenting research, you do not just put up your data tables; you must build a story—a story that helps illustrate the ‘so what’ of your work. A story that shows why your research matters.

So for instance, interdisciplinarity, multidisciplinary, liberal learning, etc. is growing—so what? What does this growth have to do with anything else? And why should we care? Our presentation must begin to answer these questions because ultimately, these questions are what place our research into a narrative. And more importantly, these questions might actually begin to help policy-makers and others craft solutions to existing problems.