Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Commercialisation of universities

I find the following book synopsis rather disturbing.
Is everything in a university for sale if the price is right? In this book, the author cautions that the answer is all too often "yes." Taking the first comprehensive look at the growing commercialization of our academic institutions, the author probes the efforts on campus to profit financially not only from athletics but increasingly, from education and research as well. He shows how such ventures are undermining core academic values and what universities can do to limit the damage. 
Commercialization has many causes, but it could never have grown to its present state had it not been for the recent, rapid growth of money-making opportunities in a more technologically complex, knowledge-based economy. A brave new world has now emerged in which university presidents, enterprising professors, and even administrative staff can all find seductive opportunities to turn specialized knowledge into profit. 
The author argues that universities, faced with these temptations, are jeopardizing their fundamental mission in their eagerness to make money by agreeing to more and more compromises with basic academic values. He discusses the dangers posed by increased secrecy in corporate-funded research, for-profit Internet companies funded by venture capitalists, industry-subsidized educational programs for physicians, conflicts of interest in research on human subjects, and other questionable activities. 
While entrepreneurial universities may occasionally succeed in the short term, reasons the author, only those institutions that vigorously uphold academic values, even at the cost of a few lucrative ventures, will win public trust and retain the respect of faculty and students. Candid, evenhanded, and eminently readable, Universities in the Marketplace will be widely debated by all those concerned with the future of higher education in America and beyond.
What is most disturbing is that the author of Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education is Derek Bok, former President of Harvard, the richest university in the world!

There is a helpful summary and review of the book here. A longer review compares and contrasts the book to several others addressing similar issues.

How concerned should we be about these issues?



    The Slow Professor The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy, a new book by Canadian humanities professors and literary critics Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber
    extract from the article
    What exactly is the corporatization of the academy? Here's a powerful descriptive passage from The Slow Professor:

    "The corporate university's language of new findings, technology transfer, knowledge economy, grant generation, frontier research, efficiency, and accountability dominates how academic scholarship is now framed both within the institution and outside it."

  2. Good article

    Journal of College and Character
    The Impact of Neoliberalism on College Students, Journal of College and Character, 8:5, , DOI: 10.2202/1940-1639.1620

    Is metrics , the mismeasurement of science a misadventure of neoliberialisation ?

  3. Looks like genuine academic activism to modern commercial academia,
    Flexible working: Solo scientist

    Gene Bunin web site