23 SES 13 C, ‘The Ironies and Illusions of Gosplan Thinking ’: An Analysis of Neoliberal Influences on Higher Education in Diverse International Contexts
The marketisation of universities is the grand narrative of UK higher education in the 21st century and neoliberal notions of the university-knowledge economy nexus are now deeply embedded in the socio-political system. To sustain this transformation, the neoliberal myth of a ‘virtuous circle’ was created, linked to the core mission of universities as servants of the ‘knowledge economy’ i.e. business demands applied research knowledge and ‘skilled’ graduate workers and universities supply them, to mutual benefit. However, as the global financial crisis deepens, accompanied by record graduate unemployment, the myth of this ‘virtuous circle’ has begun to sound implausible. At this historical point of disjuncture, an opportunity arises to challenge knowledge-commodification, homogenisation and productive approaches to knowledge generation that pervade undergraduate business curricula under the influence of the government’s employability agenda. Bernstein’s pedagogic device is applied to analyse the influences of neoliberal ideology that dominate the discourse of curriculum and pedagogy in a new university business school. Empirical evidence is derived from ten semi-structured interviews with academics and an extensive documentary review relating to two undergraduate business programmes. A Deleuzian approach to creative curriculum design is posited as an alternative to the productive orientation of the current undergraduate business curriculum.
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