22 SES 12 C, Policy, Management and Governance in Higher Education
Socio-economic upheaval after the Lehman Shock and the consequent introduction of austerity measures have overshadowed the university sector in England. The universities have been urged to respond risk and uncertainty.
The study examines the change in the risk management of the university system over the last five years, paying attention to the state-university nexus. The proposal, therefore, suits Thematic Research Field 4 in Network 22.
The objective of the paper is to identify how global financial crisis has re-shaped state-university relationship in risk management in England in order to avoid future financial turbulence and manage risk in uncertain and insecure environments.
The study is significant because few literatures so far connect the conceptions of ‘risk’ and ‘uncertainty’ to university governance and management, although the conception of ‘risk’ and ‘uncertainty’ per se are not new in higher education studies and sociology [for general social theories of risk society, see Giddens (1990, 1999a, b) and Beck (1992)].
A main research question follows: how has global financial crisis re-shaped state-university relationship in risk management in England in order to avoid future financial turbulence and manage financial risk in uncertain and insecure environments?
The study explores Foucault’s idea of neo-liberal ‘governmentality’ (1988, 1991)—which has some implications for ‘risk management’— in the light of the current economic crisis. Foucault, a post-structuralist criticising liberalism, argued that the crisis of Keynesianism and the end of welfare-state intervention have brought about the state’s indirect techniques for steering individuals, placing the responsibility of social risks, such as illness, unemployment and poverty, on the individual (‘responsibilisation’). In the higher education context, it implies the transfer of responsibilities from the state to the universities in (risk) management as well as other areas, making the universities risk-managing, self-reliant, responsible, performance-focused and autonomous subjects.
The study accepts Foucault’s argument on the introduction of government indirect techniques (rather than taking a laissez-faire form) and responsibilisation under a neo-liberal regime. It hypotheses the continuity of the neoliberal governance style at the system level (i.e. policy instruments, governance culture, accountability and autonomy) in the post-2008 period.
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