Why Irish universities are in thrall to neoliberalism

Posted in Governance and administration on June 20th, 2018 by steve

“In a remarkable speech delivered recently, as he joined academics and historians at the launch of the Cambridge History of Ireland, President Michael D Higgins spoke out against the market model of higher education. Taking unflinching aim at research ratings and rankings, the President criticised metrics as an ‘ideological fad’ of the university …” (more)

[Áine Mahon and Shane Bergin, Irish Times, 19 June]

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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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John Morrissey, ‘Regimes of performance: practices of the normalised self in the neoliberal university’

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on August 29th, 2016 by steve

IrelandAbstract: Universities today inescapably find themselves part of nationally and globally competitive networks that appear firmly inflected by neoliberal concerns of rankings, benchmarking and productivity. This, of course, has in turn led to progressively anticipated and regulated forms of academic subjectivity that many fear are overly econo-centric in design. What I wish to explore in this paper is how, emanating from prevailing neoliberal concepts of individuality and competitiveness, the agency of the contemporary academic is increasingly conditioned via ‘regimes of performance’, replete with prioritised claims of truth and practices of the normalised self. Drawing upon Michel Foucault’s writings on governmentality, and Judith Butler’s subsequent work on subjection, I use findings from a series of in-depth interviews with senior university managers at National University of Ireland, Galway to reflect upon the ways in which academics can respond effectively to the ascendant forms of neoliberal governmentality characterising the academy today. I contemplate the key task of articulating broader educational values, and conclude by considering the challenge of enacting alternative academic subjectivities and practices.

Morrissey, John. (2015). Regimes of performance: practices of the normalised self in the neoliberal university. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 36(4), 614-634.


Mercille and Murphy, ‘The Neoliberalization of Irish Higher Education under Austerity’

Posted in Governance and administration on February 17th, 2016 by steve

IrelandAbstract: This paper discusses the transformations that have taken place in Irish higher education under neoliberalism and, in particular, during the period of austerity since 2008. We adopt a critical political economic framework conceptualizing Ireland as a prototypical neoliberal state and maintain that the period of economic crisis since 2008 has witnessed a deepening of neoliberalism. We argue that restructuring in the education sector has been shaped by forces originating from the European Union, global institutions, as well as from the interests of Irish political and economic elites. We examine several aspects of the neoliberalization of the education sector, including privatization, commercialization, labor casualization and the erosion of work conditions. Empirically, the paper synthesizes and conceptualizes available data on neoliberalism and higher education in Ireland. Theoretically, it presents a useful framework to investigate similar cases in other countries.

Julien Mercille and Enda Murphy, ‘The Neoliberalization of Irish Higher Education under Austerity’, Critical Sociology October 8, 2015.

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UCD academic criticises ‘neoliberal assault on education’ at SWSS discussion

Posted in Governance and administration on December 11th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“Dr Kieran Allen, a senior lecturer from the UCD school of sociology, yesterday spoke to the Socialist Worker Student Society on the topic of neoliberalism and education. Allen began the discussion by briefly outlining the historical origins of universities in the East and subsequently their beak away from religious institutions as they developed in the West …” (more)

[Riain Fitzsimons, Trinity News, 11 December]

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Education Versus Neo-Liberalism

Posted in Governance and administration on April 10th, 2015 by steve

Ireland“The ongoing events in the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) speak to a larger and slowly emerging crisis in the Irish educational system …” (more)

[Bryan Wall, Irish Left Review, 10 April]

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notes on the proto/rollback/rollout phases of the co-operative university

Posted in Governance and administration on May 12th, 2014 by steve

“Stephen Ball writes of three stages of neoliberalism. The first is proto, and refers to the intellectual genesis and maturation of the project. This is the cultural attack on the everyday reality of the public and of the State, and lays the groundwork for building a consensus around the value of the market in defining the production of everyday life …” (more)

[Richard Hall’s Space, 11 May]


Neo-liberalism and Its Discontents

Posted in Governance and administration on April 19th, 2014 by steve

“… The dependence of universities on corporate patronage means education has become more about product development and marketable skills than independent research or critical reflection. The humanities are being downgraded and history removed as a core subject, inducing a cultural amnesia that leaves our young people more susceptible to manipulation and demagoguery …” (more)

[Maeve Halpin, Irish Times, 19 April]

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Why instrumentalist arguments for Open Access, Open Data, and Open Science are not enough

Posted in Research on January 27th, 2014 by steve

“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? …” (more)

[Eric Kansa, Impact of Social Sciences, 27 January]

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Universities in Crisis: Markets vs. Publics?

Posted in Research on November 26th, 2013 by steve

“This talk will address the implications of recent reforms to higher education that align the university with a neo-liberal, global knowledge economy. It will suggest that the reforms are a response to the emergence of mass higher education, but involve a shift away from understanding education as a social right …” (more, video)

[Trinity College, YouTube, 26 November]

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The academic career path has been thoroughly destabilised by the precarious practices of the neoliberal university

Posted in Governance and administration, Life on November 1st, 2013 by steve

“It is an increasingly difficult time to begin an academic career. The pressures of the REF, casualization and adjunctification of teaching and the disappearance of research funding are enormous obstacles academics face …” (more)

[Sydney Calkin, Impact of Social Sciences, 1 November]

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Neoliberalism, Networks and Knowledge: The commercialisation and resituating of universities

Posted in Governance and administration on September 9th, 2013 by steve

“… This commercialisation and resituating of universities is ultimately traceable to the neoliberal politics and policies that rose to prominence over the past few decades. Key to the larger neoliberal restructuring of the economy and politics was an attempt to bring a ‘bottom line’ economic rationality into the working of the public sector …” (more)

[Steven Ward, British Politics and Policy at LSE, 9 September]

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MOOCs and neoliberalism: for a critical response

Posted in Teaching on July 12th, 2013 by steve

“… There are several moments in what you post/your slides where I feel we need a wider discussion. 1. Critiquing MOOCs is now more fashionable than advocating for them. …” (more)

[Richard Hall’s Space, 11 July]

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Managerialism in higher education

Posted in Governance and administration on June 7th, 2013 by steve

“Sir, – The term ‘neo-liberalism’ has been extensively bandied about in Tom Dunne’s recent review of Lynch et al’s New Managerialism in Education, and also in letters to the Editor on the same subject from Shaun McCann and Patricia Palmer (June 6th) …” (more)

[John Sheehan, Irish Times, 7 June]

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New Managerialism in Education: Commercialization, Carelessness and Gender, by Kathleen Lynch, Bernie Grummell and Dympna Devine

Posted in Governance and administration on June 1st, 2013 by steve

“Like a deadly, odourless gas, the elements of a quiet revolution have seeped through every area of Irish education during recent decades, poisoning the atmosphere. A relentless application of market principles …” (more)

[Tom Dunne, Irish Times, 1 June]

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Sociologist Stephen Ball on Education Policy

Posted in Governance and administration on March 25th, 2013 by steve

“Presented and produced by Seán Delaney. On this week’s programme, Professor Stephen Ball from the Institute of Education at the University of London talks about how he uses the discipline of sociology, and in particular the work of Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu to study education policy …” (more, mp3)

[Inside Education on 103.2 Dublin City FM, 24 March]

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Irish Education in an Age of Austerity

Posted in Governance and administration, Teaching on March 23rd, 2013 by steve

“Vere Foster Trust and the Institute of Educational Research in Ireland. Public Lecture Series on Irish Education in an Age of Austerity. Professor Stephen Ball Lecture.” (video)

[Dublin City University, 13 March]

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Neoliberalism and Higher Education: The Australian Case

Posted in Governance and administration on February 21st, 2013 by steve

Australia“When neoliberal policies in Australia began to bite in the sphere of higher education, towards the end of the 1980s, a common reaction among university staff was astonishment and then dismay. To see staff of other universities as opponents rather than colleagues, or to prove the economic value of courses never designed to be sold, seemed bizarre if not mad requirements, and morally offensive too …” (more)

[Raewyn Connell, Universities in Crisis, 20 February]

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Good university leadership works, research suggests

Posted in Governance and administration on April 8th, 2012 by steve

“Across the world, university leadership has been transformed in response to calls from governments and international organisations for more effective governance. These requests reflect a broad consensus that countries must improve their national productivity and that universities play a critical role in developing the skills for global competitiveness …” (more)

[Elaine El-Khawas, University World News, 8 April]


Another empty election

Posted in Governance and administration on March 23rd, 2011 by steve

“Last night we attended one of the many hustings (‘debates’) taking place for the election of the new Provost of Trinity College. Unfortunately there is no debate. All the candidates accept that the state should no longer provide free and equal education (because the government has decided the banks and bondholders are more important) …” (more)

[The provisional university, 23 March]

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