22 SES 12 C, Contextualizing and Problematizing Academic Work in Today’s Universities: An International Perspective 1
In this presentation, I discuss the impact on academics of the forms of governance that have come to prevail in UK higher education over the past two decades or so, as reliance on state funding has gradually decreased whilst, at the same time, state control ‘from a distance’ (Neave, 1998 ) has significantly increased. This work is based on fifty interviews with academics in institutions in the UK, Australia, US, South Africa, and Zambia. Using ideological positioning as a theoretical framework to underpin my argument within the broader discussion of the tensions between structure and agency (Archer,1995), I show that academics’ responses to what has been broadly referred to as managerialism (Deem et al, 2007) is complex, and not of one piece. I examine areas of practice (the relation to students, the discipline, research) which illustrate the complexity of this positioning. I argue that it is possible for academics to enact their personal beliefs and ideals as educators, and that a rich, critical and empowering potential exists within the academy to counteract the liberal stance. The perspective discussed here seeks to promote ways of working in the academy that lead to alternative forms of engagement with students and practices
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