Changes in the political economy of higher education, including cuts in public spending, rising student fees, the privileging of STEM subjects over the arts and humanities, and the proliferation of new regimes of audit and accountability, pose challenges for the social sciences as well as the university itself. In countries such as Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, academics are being urged to become more entrepreneurial, to focus on ‘impact’, and to engage proactively with business and finance in order to create more commercially-oriented ‘innovation ecosystems’. The idea of ‘unbundling’ the university and forging a ‘triple helix’ of university-government-industry relations has become part of the new common sense that now drives government higher education policy. But how positive is this supposed symbiosis between universities and external financial interests? What are the costs of this collaboration? And what are the implications for the future of the public university?
In a talk given at the University of Auckland, Cris Shore explores these questions drawing on ten years of ethnographic research into university reform and globalisation.
Cris Shore is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Auckland. His most recent book, co-edited with Susan Wright, is Death of the Public University? Uncertain Futures for Universities in the Knowledge Economy. He is an expert in political anthropology.