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Education – a faux crisis, an erroneous ‘solution’ and capital wins again

One of the ways in which the neoliberal era has entrenched itself and, in this case, will perpetuate its negative legacy for years to come is to infiltrate the educational system. This has occurred in various ways over the decades as the corporate sector has sought to have more influence over what is taught and researched in universities. The benefits of this influence to capital are obvious. They create a stream of compliant recruits who have learned to jump through hoops to get delayed rewards. In the period after full employment was abandoned firms also realised they no longer had to offer training to their staff in the same way they did when vacancies outstripped available workers. As a result they have increasingly sought to impose their ‘job specific’ training requirements onto universities, who under pressure from government funding constraints have, erroneously, seen this as a way to stay afloat. So traditional liberal arts programs have come under attack – they don’t have a ‘product’ to sell – as the market paradigm has become increasingly entrenched. There has also been an attack on ‘basic’ research as the corporate sector demands universities innovate more. That is code for doing the privatising public research to advance profit. But capital still can see more rewards coming if they can further dictate curriculum and research agendas. So how to proceed. Invent a crisis. If you can claim that universities will become irrelevant in the next decade unless they do what capital desires of them then the policy debate becomes further skewed away from where it should be. That ‘crisis invention’ happened this week in Australia.

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