Tag Archives: higher education neoliberalism

University for Strategic Optimism: The Autumn Term Is Open


Syllabus Autumn Term 2010

Course: Higher Education, Neo-Liberalism and the State

Course Outline

Our basic public services, we are told, are simply too expensive. They must be thrown under the wheels of the megalithic debt that bears down upon us. They must be privatised, corporatised and commodified. All this so we can ensure the continuation of a system that funnels wealth into the hands of a privileged few. This failed and flailing market system, we are told, is the only one that is possible, drastic cuts the only alternative, the fairest thing to do. Any deviation from the path laid out for us will unleash the worst imaginable, a media-imagined Worst that threatens from our darkened skies.

This course offers an emphatic No! to this description of our current situation, and sees instead a magnificent opportunity, a multiplication of possibilities, the opening of a space in which we might think about, and bring about, a fairer and wealthier society for all. In short: Many good reasons for strategic optimism!

High profile economists from all sides tell us that the cuts make no fiscal sense. This course seeks to move beyond this point, to interrogate how the cuts make sense, to whom, according to which logic. It urges a rampant questioning of the ideological basis for the relentless privitisation and privation of our lives: Are these cuts incoherent, as some have said? Or is this a specific move/set of moves on the part of neo-liberal capital? Are labour, education, healthcare, and the environment, mere commodities, to be consumed by those who will redeem them as more capital? Can the opposition to cuts begin moving towards a society ‘fit for purpose’? Is it still easier to imagine The End-of-the-World than The End-of-Capitalism?

Lecture 1: Lloyds TBS

Lecture 2: Tesco Superstore

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The Bologna Process and Struggles in the Transnational Space (Paris)

The Bologna Process, Transformations of the University, and Struggles in the Transnational Space
Paris meeting: Thursday, May 4 – 4pm – Paris 1-Tolbiac (Amphi K)


Gigi Roggero (edu-factory)

Alexei Penzin (Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow; Chto Delat)

Carlo Vercellone (Université Paris 1)

Judith Revel (Université Paris 1)

militants of Sud étudiant

militants of Italian university movement




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We Don’t Need No Education (Middlesex University)

Middlesex University in the UK has decided to close its stellar philosophy department. Nina Power is one of the folks leading the charge to reverse this pathetic decision.

Now you know what you have to do. Sign the Save Middlesex Philosophy petition. Join the campaign’s Facebook group. E-mail Dean Edward Esche at e.esche@mdx.ac.uk, and send a copy and any reply to savemdxphil@gmail.com.

UPDATE. Nina Power in Comment Is Free (The Guardian):

Interest in philosophy has in fact grown massively in recent years. This is, in part, due to the increased numbers of students taking A-level philosophy, but is also the result of the widespread desire for critical thought and analysis in the face of an increasingly disorienting world. Closure at Middlesex would be a step back to the bad old days when philosophy meant a few young, white and almost entirely male students at privileged institutions discussing the finer points of formal logic over sherry. Middlesex University must be prevented from dismantling one of the finest philosophy departments in the country: fight to keep philosophy alive.

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Academy of Fine Arts Vienna Occupied!

akbildpk1-1024x683On Tuesday, October 20, 2009, the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna was squatted. Here is the statement and the demands of the occupants:

The Bologna process aims at an extensive convergence of European universities with the Anglo-American education system. The aim is to enter competition in the global education market in order to strengthen universities’ economic position and increase their research dependent revenues. The establishment of regulative norms and the harmonization of standards are the basis and at the same time the precondition of this process: without standardization there can be no measurability, without measurability no comparability, without comparability no competition. Economization and the logic of competition are imposed at every level of knowledge production.

The result is intercontinental as well as inter-EU competition, in which single universities and their departments compete amongst themselves for the best results and statistics. The processes involved in the creation of an education economy with knowledge as the commodity correspond to the general tendencies towards privatization and commodification of all spheres of life under neoliberal capitalism. They lead to educational institutions’ increased dependency on their sponsors, cynically defined as the autonomization of universities.

In this context autonomy is a euphemism for the new forms of governing institutions. The autonomized universities are not autonomous in the sense of self-determined at all. They are rather directed to fulfil the needs of economy and industry, as well as to subjugate themselves to market logic: efficiency, competition and managerial ruling structures. The democratisation of universities, implemented in the 1970s, is successively abolished — democratically legitimized bodies are disenfranchised and replaced by top-down hierarchical structures.

In the composition of the Bologna 3-level study model, a paradigm change has manifested itself; in the last few years there has been a shift from a pluralistic ideal of education to an economy-oriented model of education. The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna has repeatedly and explicitly positioned itself against this degradation and the establishment of the Bachelor-Master system.

We refuse to subjugate ourselves to the logic of politics and economy!

We’re fighting to define learning, teaching and research for ourselves!

We declare solidarity with the education protests in Bangladesh, Brazil, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Great Britain, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Croatia, Netherlands, Serbia, South Africa, and the USA!


1. We oppose ourselves to university-based organisational structures that are determined by economic ends, as well as to the privatisation of teaching, research and knowledge production more broadly. We demand the full public funding and re-democratization of all educational institutions as well as the unconditional abolition of university fees!

2. We oppose ourselves to the pseudo-autonomy of universities. We demand the immediate withdrawal of §8* of the UG 2002!
§8.: “Upon the proposal of the minister of education, the government may impose the installation of a branch of study on a university or several universities, given this is necessary on the basis of political decisions in the fields of education or science, and given there is no related former agreement as in a contract regarding university performance.”
We demand the freedom to define what teaching and research, as well as science and art, mean in the context of our universities.

3. We oppose ourselves to quality assessments concerning science and art when these operate by economic criteria. We are against the forced imposition of self-marketing strategies on universities, and against the conflation of education with competitiveness and elitism.
We demand the abolition of knowledge surveys and agreements on productivity!

4. We oppose ourselves to the degrading transformation of universities and schools into training facilities oriented by the labour market.
We want education as space for thinking, not training as the mere reproduction of workforce!.

5. We insist that the government refrain from taking teaching and art, science and research seperable as objects of thought and administration. We demand that the corresponding ministeries be merged immediately.

We insist that the rector defend the position of the Academy — and not his private view — when it comes to negotiating the terms of productivity with the ministry.

We demand that the rector make sure all existing courses of study remain in place, according to the decisions taken at the academy.

We demand that all financial activities within the term of the current agreement on productivity (2007-2009) be immediately revealed.

Edited by teachers and students of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

Sign the petition: http://www.malen-nach-zahlen.at/?page_id=144

http://www.malen-nach-zahlen.at (content is being translated to english …)


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