‘The Neoliberal university in Ireland: institutional bullying by another name?’

Posted in Governance and administration on June 12th, 2021 by steve

Abstract: New managerialism and the pervasive neoliberalisation of universities is by now a wellestablished phenomenon. Commentaries explore the political and economic drivers and effects of neoliberal ideology, and critique the impact on higher education and academic work. The impact on the health and well-being of academic staff has had less attention, and it is to that we turn in this paper. Much academic interest in neoliberalism stems from the UK, Australia and the United States. We draw particularly on studies of public Irish universities, where neoliberalism, now well entrenched, but something of a late-comer to the new public management party, is making its presence felt. This conceptual paper explores the concept of neoliberalism in higher education, arguing that the policies and practices of new public management as exercised in universities are a form of bullying; what we term institutional bullying. The authors are researchers of workplace culture, workplace bullying and incivility. Irish universities are increasingly challenged in delivering the International Labour Organisation (ILO) principles of decent work, i.e., dignity, equity, fair income and safe working conditions. They have become exposed in terms of gender imbalance in senior positions, precariat workforce, excessive workload and diminishing levels of control. Irish universities are suffering in terms of both the health and well-being of staff and organisational vibrancy. The authors conclude by cautioning against potential neoliberal intensification as universities grapple with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper reviews neoliberalism in higher education and concludes with insight as to how the current pandemic could act as a necessary catalyst to stem the tide and ‘call out’ bullying at the institutional level.

Hodgins, Margaret and Mannix-McNamara, Patricia, The Neoliberal university in Ireland: institutional bullying by another name? (2021) 11 Societies 52.

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‘Take back Trinity’ campaign

Posted in Governance and administration on March 16th, 2018 by steve

Ireland“Sir, – If Lyndsey Earner-Byrne summarises very comprehensively the benefits to society of a third-level education (March 14th), the current student demonstrations going on in the heart of Trinity College Dublin are testimony to how those benefits have been severely threatened as the third-level sector becomes yet increasingly corporate in character …” (more)

[Sarah Alyn Stacey, Irish Times, 16 March]

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The Neoliberal University

Posted in Governance and administration on December 31st, 2016 by steve

Ireland“These days, the word ‘neoliberal’ is usually used as a term of abuse. It is code for ‘right wing’, ie a belief in a lightly-regulated, laissez-faire approach to not only business and the economy but also to education. ‘Right wing’ is seen as inherently bad; selfish and focused on the individual, while ‘left wing’ is seen as caring and considerate and focused on the greater good …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 30 December]

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We don’t have students any more – just customers

Posted in Governance and administration on December 13th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“With the globalisation and deregulation of trade, governments are increasingly susceptible to the influence of powerful commercial interests. Organisations such as the OECD, the World Bank and the EU mediate this influence and thereby exercise in direct control over national higher education systems …” (more)

[Kathleen Lynch, Irish Times, 12 December]

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The business of running a university

Posted in Governance and administration on May 14th, 2016 by steve

UK“When universities were first created in medieval times, they were mainly communities of ecclesiastical scholars. Now, they are multimillion-pound businesses with complex leadership teams, human resources departments, mission statements, international strategies, communications executives and directors of enterprise …” (more)

[Harriet Swain, Guardian, 14 May]

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The risks of Soviet-style managerialism in UK universities

Posted in Governance and administration on May 8th, 2016 by steve

UK“In May 2014, I published an article in Times Higher Education commenting on the parallels between the reforms of UK universities and those in Stalin’s Soviet Union (‘A very Stalinist management model’, Opinion, 29 May 2014). The factors I picked up on included the spread of proxy metrics, the target culture, competition between institutions …” (more)

[Craig Brandist, Times Higher Education, 5 May]

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Time to cry out for academic freedom

Posted in Governance and administration on November 18th, 2015 by steve

UK“Giving staff and students a say in how institutions are run would strengthen governance and clip the wings of administrators, argues Colin Macilwain …” (more)

[Nature, 18 November]

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University managerialism ‘can boost academic freedom’

Posted in Governance and administration on August 21st, 2015 by steve

EU“For decades, scholars have feared that their power within universities has dwindled, with important decisions instead being taken by ever more overweening managers. But this may not actually be so, according to a study of institutions across Europe …” (more)

[David Matthews, Times Higher Education, 21 August]


‘The Academic Manifesto: From an Occupied to a Public University’

Posted in Governance and administration on June 8th, 2015 by steve

HollandAbstract: Universities are occupied by management, a regime obsessed with ‘accountability’ through measurement, increased competition, efficiency, ‘excellence’, and misconceived economic salvation. Given the occupation’s absurd side-effects, we ask ourselves how management has succeeded in taking over our precious universities. An alternative vision for the academic future consists of a public university, more akin to a socially engaged knowledge commons than to a corporation. We suggest some provocative measures to bring about such a university. However, as management seems impervious to cogent arguments, such changes can only happen if academics take action. Hence, we explore several strategies for a renewed university politics.

Willem Halffman and Hans Radder, The Academic Manifesto: From an Occupied to a Public University. Minerva, April 2015.

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Managerialism risks destroying our universities, warns IFUT General Secretary

Posted in Governance and administration on May 9th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“Huge damage is being done to independence and freedom of decision-making in the University Sector due to the new ‘managerialist’ approach increasingly asserting itself in our universities Mike Jennings, General Secretary of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) said at the organisations Annual Conference in Dublin …” (more)

[Irish Federation of University Teachers, 9 May]

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Money, managerialism and the university

Posted in Governance and administration on March 24th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“Marina Warner, in an essay titled ‘Learning My Lesson’ in the current issue of the London Review of Books, writes of a letter she received from an academic who felt he had been driven to resign from his post as a result of demands placed on him which he felt to be unreasonable …” (more)

[Dublin Review of Books, 21 March]

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ICTU Youth, USI and IFUT statement in support of University of Amsterdam occupation

Posted in Governance and administration on March 19th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) Youth, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) want to express our support for the New University / ReThink UvA occupation at the University of Amsterdam …” (more)

[Irish Left Review, 19 March]

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Meetings vs. Management

Posted in Governance and administration on February 13th, 2015 by steve

Canada“It’s always difficult to make accurate observations about differences in national higher education cultures. But one thing I can tell you that is absolutely not true is the perception that Canadian universities are suffering under some kind of unprecedented managerialist regime …” (more)

[Alex Usher, HESA, 13 February]

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Without values the academy risks anarchy

Posted in Governance and administration on January 19th, 2015 by steve

UK“The nature of academia is changing. Despite once conjuring up images of scholars benevolently trying to solve life’s great mysteries behind the protection of the ivory tower, universities today have come to hide their own dark secrets …” (more)

[Diana Beech, University World News, 16 January]

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Martin Bean’s Leaving Message from the OU: ‘Universities risk digital irrelevance’: Is he right?

Posted in Teaching on November 10th, 2014 by steve

UK“There’s something a bit reassuringly old-fashioned about Martin Bean’s plea for more technological innovation in Universities …” (more)

[Mark Johnson, Improvisation Blog, 9 November]

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Cui bono? The commercialisation of universities is more complex and durable than many critics imagine

Posted in Governance and administration on April 25th, 2014 by steve

“Arguments over the commercialisation of university education are part of two wider controversies. Firstly, there is a familiar dispute between extreme liberals and the rest of us …” (more)

[Colum McCaffery’s Weblog, 25 April]

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The Social Ontology of Education and Managerial Delusions

Posted in Teaching on March 23rd, 2014 by steve

“I’m writing an EU bid at the moment for which there’s a really exciting international consortium coming together. No guarantees that the thing will get funded of course, but what’s interesting is the fact that everybody I’ve shown it to ‘get’s it’ …” (more)

[Improvisation Blog, 22 March]

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A simple test for university bureaucracy

Posted in Governance and administration on February 5th, 2014 by steve

“Universities are actually fairly simple things. They are organizations where knowledge is uncovered and transmitted …” (more)

[Brian M Lucey, 5 February]

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Universities are not Innovation Bootcamps

Posted in Governance and administration on September 8th, 2013 by steve

“Irish universities remits and units are shrinking in most areas, with one exception it seems. There has been a growth over the last number of years in university-based industrial incubators …” (more)

[Brian M Lucey, 8 September]

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Academic surveillance and New Public Management

Posted in Governance and administration on July 15th, 2013 by steve

“Managerialist models and practices are sweeping through universities internationally, overthrowing the collegiate system of professional organization by academics, and this wave has recently reached Ireland …” (more)

[DCU union, 15 July]

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