Where are the higher education libertarians?

How come we don’t have a Tea Party of research evaluation? Where is the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag for the REF?  How come all the market ideology which is imported into the administration of universities is the of the unreconstructed sort? How come the focus is on ever more regulation (of individual researchers and their work), whereas elsewhere in this grand market regulation is anathema? Where is the spontaneous order ideologues, the invisible hand acolytes for the knowledge economy? Where aren’t academics and researchers recognised as the experts they are and so left to self-regulation, as is the norm elsewhere in the ‘market knows best’ dreamlandfantastytime? If the Michael Goves and David Willetses of the world are bringing market mechanisms into education and research on the principle that these realms are markets already, well why not expand this thought to its ultimate conclusion. If they are markets (of ideas, of knowledge, of technology, of understanding) then the last thing required is any government involvement. Or perhaps it is an incoherent analogy from the off…


2 thoughts on “Where are the higher education libertarians?

  1. A good friend of mine, an American who has made Russia his special study, and who worked at the University of Reading for a few years, told me that he felt that the British Higher Education system seemed to have imported all the worst features of east and west – that an aggressive neo-liberal market capitalism had somehow been manacled onto a soviet style obsession with central control and with “targets”.

    The truth is, of course, as I’m sure you’d agree – that neoliberalism has never been about the withering away of the state, and has often involved a substantial expansion of state power when the interests of the monied classes demand it.

    • I agree completely. The actual vector seems to be something like first deregulation (of ‘vested interests’ such as health and safety law, non-exploitation concerns, unions) proceeding then and only then to REregulation (in the interests of those would reap the rewards, be they the compromised officials hoping for a nice sinecure on a board in their political twilight, or – less conspiratorially – the mythical “shareholder”).

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