Neoliberalism savages the universities
University administrations have become compliant tools of the neoliberal establishment. Its new handmaidens are the professional managers who have taken over university administrations, boards and committees. By and large, this new class of managers possesses few if any academic credentials, and is not in a position to evaluate any program of activity on the basis of its merits or its real value to society. The bottom line of their deliberations is a conjunction of commercial profit and ideological “correctness”.
A second handmaiden of neoliberalism is the central government. And it matters little which party happens to be in office. Both of the major party groupings have been captured by the neoliberal view of the world and the neoliberal agenda. Both are obsessed with the objective of achieving budget surpluses at all costs, which they imagine represents fiscal responsibility. To this end, the federal government seems committed to a course of hitting “soft” funding targets. This includes federal funding that has hitherto been available for research programs in universities and federal government departments.
The neoliberal view is that universities are commercial organisations whose entire funding should be extracted from fees charged for teaching courses regarded by the neoliberal establishment as relevant to its interests, as well as from any investments that are possible and perhaps also from donations and bequests. This viewpoint removes from university syllabuses a considerable range of traditional studies, and also removes from university campuses good research programs which happen to be regarded by the professional managers as irrelevant to its commercial interests.
John Hermann is the ERA network editor