The Modern University, Ltd.

Article English OPEN
Frost, Tom (2015)
  • Publisher: Elias Clark Group
  • Subject: K | LB2300

Today, the university in the United Kingdom (UK) appears to be being led far from its educational, egalitarian roots. It appears to be a corporate beast, increasingly marketised, commodified and commercialised. In recent years, many words have been written on this matter. In this article, I wish to consider how these perceived changes could affect a cherished notion for academics – academic freedom. I connect the marketisation of UK higher education to the (comparatively) recent economic changes in the structure of capitalism, and the rise of neoliberal economic theory. \ud This article contends that the modern shift to commercialisation and bureaucratisation in the university is not a new trend. Going back several hundred years’ state and market control in rationalising learning has been constant. The university should be seen as the precursor to the modern corporation, rather than its antithesis, with the historically marketised elements of the university simply being accentuated. Changes in the nature of capitalism have led to a change in the structure of corporations, which now operate in a system of competition rather than exchange. The effects of this change have made their mark in higher education. In this system, the work of the academic, and the widely touted idea of ‘academic freedom’, serves the ends of the university as a corporation. \ud What this indicates is that far from being the hotbed of revolt and revolution, the university is an embodiment of what many academics in their politics aim to overthrow. I conclude that it is only by understanding the intrinsically corporate nature of the university that bettering the university can be achieved.
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