James R. Ochwa-Echel – Neoliberalism and University Education in Sub-Saharan Africa


university-thSage Publications. September 2013. This article reviews the history of university development in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and discusses the impact of neoliberal policies. This will be followed by an examination of the problems facing universities in the region. The following questions will be explored: (a) Are the existing universities in SSA serving the development needs of the region? (b) Are these universities up to the task of moving SSA out of the predicaments it faces such as famine, HIV/AIDS, poverty, diseases, debt, and human rights abuses? Finally, the article argues that for universities to play a role in the development of the region, a new paradigm that makes university education a public good should be established.

Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) continue to struggle economically since the massive decline of the 1980s. For instance, according to Gilbert (2004), 315 million people in SSA lived on a dollar a day in 1999. In addition, the World Bank (2011) indicates that SSA had an external debt of US$195,999 million in 2008. In the quest to resolve the crisis, governments in the region sought financial assistance from developed nations and international financial institutions, principally the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. As part of the conditions for borrowing money, the financial institutions laid out a set of policies (“structural adjustments”) that the governments had to follow. The policies were based on neoliberal principles, which call for state withdrawal from administering public resources to promote social justice and replacing it with market-based solutions (Apple, 2000).

This phenomenon will be discussed in detail below. In the area of education, it sought cost sharing in university education, private provision of schooling at all levels, and diversification of funding to primary education. Due to these neoliberal policies, university education in the region has faced and continues to face major challenges (Lulat, 2005).

First, I will review the history of university education and its overall evolution and discuss the impact of neoliberal policies. This will be followed by an examination of the problems facing universities in the region. The following questions will be explored:

  • Research Question 1: Are the existing universities in SSA serving the development needs of the region?

  • Research Question 2: Are these universities up to the task of moving SSA out of the predicaments it faces such as famine, HIV/AIDS, poverty, diseases, debt, and human rights abuses?

Finally, I argue that for universities to play a role in the development of the region, a new paradigm, which makes university education a public good, should be constituted.

Read more: http://sgo.sagepub.com/content/3/3/2158244013504933

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Eric Kansa – It’s The Neoliberalism, Stupid: Why Instrumentalist Arguments For Open Access, Open Data, And Open Science Are Not Enough


London School of Economics & Political Science. January, 2014. The Open Movement has made impressive strides in the past year, but do these strides stand for reform or are they just symptomatic of the further expansion and entrenchment of neoliberalism?
Eric Kansa argues that it is time for the movement to broaden its long-term strategy to tackle the needs for wider reform in the financing and organization of research and education and oppose the all-pervasive trend of universities primarily serving the needs of commerce.

Last year was obviously a big year for all things “open.” The White House has embraced Open Access and Open Data policies, and even recognized the work of >some advocates of reform, and that has been hugely exciting. It seems that the arguments for greater openness have finally led to some meaningful changes. All of these are signs of real progress.

However, I’m increasingly convinced that advocating for openness in research (or government) isn’t nearly enough. There’s been too much of an instrumentalist justification for open data an open access. Many advocates talk about how it will cut costs and speed up research and innovation. They also argue that it will make research more and transparent so interpretations can be better vetted by the wider community. Advocates for openness, particularly in open government, also talk about the wonderful commercial opportunities that will come from freeing research.

Read more: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/its-the-neoliberalism-stupid-kansa/

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Ira Harkavy – The Role Of Universities In Advancing Citizenship And Social Justice In The 21st Century


jRTAAAEiLSage Publication, 2006. This article makes the following claims: (1) the goal for universities should be to contribute significantly to developing and sustaining democratic schools, communities, and societies; (2) by working to realize that goal, democratic-minded academics can powerfully help American higher education in particular, and American schooling in general, return to their core mission – effectively educating students to be democratic, creative, caring, constructive citizens of a democratic society. To support those claims, the author provides an historical and contemporary case to illustrate that a democratic mission is the core mission of American higher education. He also identifies Platonization, commodification, and, ‘disciplinary ethnocentrism, tribalism, guildism’, as major obstacles that have helped prevent higher education from realizing its democratic mission. Drawing on two decades of experience he and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania have had developing university–community–school partnerships, he proposes a strategy that involves colleges and universities working to solve universal problems (e.g. poverty, inadequate schooling, substandard health care) that are manifested in their local communities. Highlighting the global reach of the university civic responsibility movement, he concludes by calling on democratic-minded academics to work to create university-assisted community schools as a powerful way to help develop democratic students (K-16) and to contribute to the development of democratic schools, universities and societies.

KEYWORDS community schools, democracy, engaged university, John Dewey, undergraduate education, university-assisted community schools

Read morehttp://soco-wasow.pbworks.com/f/harkavy06.pdf

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Paul Clifton – Humanities & Social Science Under Attack


nteuNTEU, March, 2014. The Abbott Government has announced it plans to redirect Australian Research Council (ARC) funding from ‘ridiculous’ research in the humanities and social science to research ‘on things that really matter.’

‘Redirecting’ funding
The Australian Research Council (ARC) has a broad mission, as stated on its website: ‘to deliver policy and programs that advance Australian research and innovation globally and benefit the community’. Its national competitive grants scheme supports high quality research, both fundamental and applied, ‘across all disciplines’, except for clinical medical and dental research, which are the province of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
In 2012–13, the ARC administered $879 million in national competitive grants (including around $530 million to 1168 Discovery grants, and $130 million to 267 Linkage grants). In December last year, the Abbott Government’s mid-financial year budget statement announced $103 million of funding for the ARC would be ‘redirected’ over four years, along with a cut of $10 million over four years to the Centres of Excellence program.
The Government uses the weasel word ‘redirected’, rather than ‘cut’, specifying that some of the funding being cut from the ARC’s Discovery and Linkage programs will go to diabetes and dementia research: areas which fall under the remit of the NHMRC, rather than the ARC, so it is effectively a very substantial hit for fundamental and applied research to all disciplines except medical research.

Read more: http://www.nteu.org.au/Humanities-and-social-science-under-attack

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Kris Olds – Universities 2030: Learning From The Past To Anticipate The Future


HigherEdWhat will the landscape of international higher education look like a generation from now? What challenges and opportunities lie ahead for universities, especially “global” research universities? And what can university leaders do to prepare for the major social, economic, and political changes—both foreseen and unforeseen—that may be on the horizon? The nine essays in this collection proceed on the premise that one way to envision “the global university” of the future is to explore how earlier generations of university leaders prepared for “global” change—or at least responded to change—in the past. As the essays in this collection attest, many of the patterns associated with contemporary “globalization” or “internationalization” are not new; similar processes have been underway for a long time (some would say for centuries).[1] A comparative-historical look at universities’ responses to global change can help today’s higher-education leaders prepare for the future.

Written by leading historians of higher education from around the world, these nine essays identify “key moments” in the internationalization of higher education: moments when universities and university leaders responded to new historical circumstances by reorienting their relationship with the broader world. Covering more than a century of change—from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first—they explore different approaches to internationalization across Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, and South America. Notably, while the choice of historical eras was left entirely open, the essays converged around four periods: the 1880s and the international extension of the “modern research university” model; the 1930s and universities’ attempts to cope with international financial and political crises; the 1960s and universities’ role in an emerging postcolonial international development apparatus; and the 2000s and the rise of neoliberal efforts to reform universities in the name of international economic “competitiveness.”

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/buniversities-2030

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Academia Debate


AcademiaJune 3,  2014. Economy, food, environment, energy, water – whatever keyword you choose, the word crisis fits right behind it nowadays. In other words, ‘crisis’ can be attached to every single important social issue.
It goes without saying that as an institution, universities are not immune to this trend. Universities are a part of society and as such are confronted with the same consequences of choices made in the past that society has to deal with. After all, ivory towers do not exist.

In this section we want to present an overview of ongoing debates at universities, as well as offer a platform, by publishing articles that not only analyze how we got to this point, but also consider possible solutions.
Because one thing is clear: A lot of time and energy is focused on pointing out the cause of present issues. Simply put, neo-liberalism is supposed to be the source of much evil. And yes, before you can think of solutions, you have to get to the root of the problem.

Mankind succeeds in making the world a better place, one tiny step at a time. Even if we sometimes feel we are not moving very fast. At those times we see that progress stumbles, but proceeds to pull itself together in order to make another good-natured attempt.

One would expect us to learn from history. That from all those attempts, we manage to keep the good things and get rid of the bad. But it has always been, and will always be, a struggle to come up with solutions that work for all of us. That is what we want to focus on in this section, finding solutions. Besides analyses, we hope to receive ideas that will help all of us move forward. Ideas that prove universities are willing and able to help shape social debate. And ultimately, by doing that, help solve social issues.

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