With recent Manipulating Media assignments focusing upon the value of a University education – and the conversation occurring in many spaces – physical, print, online… very interesting article:

Never before has the idea of the university been so feverishly debated in England, and for good reason. The restructuring of the country’s higher education sector around a student-debt-financed, fee-driven model is a fundamental recasting of the university’s place and purpose in society. But this process did not begin with the government’s higher education White Paper or even with the Browne Report that laid the ground for it. And neither is it confined to the UK.

The neoliberal transformation of higher education is a global phenomenon. In the Americas, Europe, Russia and its former colonies, the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Australasia, higher education is being rebranded as a private investment and the university repurposed to generate profit and economic growth. As a consequence, academics and students are confronting very similar conditions across the world: the escalation of fees and student debt, the expansion of management and administrative systems for measuring the efficiency of services, the quest for a plethora of new types of fee-paying consumers, and the casualisation of academic labour.

Nonetheless, England’s university system – which Howard Hotson has shown to be the best publicly funded system in the world – has been privatised further and faster than anywhere else. Despite the many exposés of the flawed rationales, contradictory mechanisms and indecent haste of this process, no one has yet asked why it has happened in England. Remarkably, the story of how English universities became the canaries in the coal mine has gone largely untold.

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