Saturday, 9 January 2010

The contradictions of the modern university

Just read this by Nina Power at Infinite Thought and nearly choked on my drink, unfortunate for the undergraduate essay I was marking at the time, I really shouldn't multi-task too much, but the tea stains aren't too noticeable. Very funny, I really should read her blog more often. This is taken from an interview that she did with the German newsaper Taz.

Has the introduction of the RAE affected your capacity to publish outside academia? How?

Not really. Universities want you to demonstrate all kinds of contradictory things at once – in-depth scholarship yet accessibility, value-for-money yet long-term outcomes, and so on. The contradictions of the modern university are simply a microcosmic version of the bastardised form of neo-liberalism fused with state bureaucracy that characterises contemporary life. In this sense, universities love academics who can at once be ‘scholars’ and ‘populists’. They don’t even seem to mind if you write scornful pieces about the very nature of academia itself, so long as the journal you publish in has a high enough rating. The thing that should take up most time is teaching – yet this is the one area (unless it involves getting overseas or postgraduate fees) that universities are not really interested in. When the students find this out, they can’t believe it. We shouldn’t either.

I won't add much comment on this, suffice it to say that my university has identified itself as teaching led for some time, albeit while emphasising all the other things too.

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