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Financialisation and bureaucracy have perverted higher education

Summary:
From Steve Keen and RWER current issue Steve: Yes, the financialisation of higher education has gone hand in hand with the growth of bureaucracy. More than all of the money raised from student loans has gone into the black hole of administration, so despite the increase in funding, there is less money going to education now than when universities were fully funded by the state. This has also perverted the educational process, for both administrators and students. Whereas administrators used to support the learning and research process, now they direct the fund-raising process; whereas students used to come for an education, they now come for vocational training. Stuck in the middle, academics are harried by performance targets and measurement metrics from above and “I’ve paid for my

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from Steve Keen and RWER current issue

Steve: Yes, the financialisation of higher education has gone hand in hand with the growth of bureaucracy. More than all of the money raised from student loans has gone into the black hole of administration, so despite the increase in funding, there is less money going to education now than when universities were fully funded by the state. This has also perverted the educational process, for both administrators and students. Whereas administrators used to support the learning and research process, now they direct the fund-raising process; whereas students used to come for an education, they now come for vocational training. Stuck in the middle, academics are harried by performance targets and measurement metrics from above and “I’ve paid for my degree, so give it to me” pressures from below.

When I started as an academic in 1987, my workload was huge (developing a new course from scratch each of my first 3 years, teaching 12 hours a week of classes, plus marking and 6 hours of consultation, plus doing my Masters full-time), but I was spending the bulk of my time doing interesting stuff under my own direction, and small class sizes let me really interact with the students. Now, academics’ time is dominated by performance monitoring and form filling, while classes are unmanageably large, at least in the low-ranked universities where heterodox economists can get a job. It’s counterproductive, soul-destroying, and certainly in the UK, low-paid. I’m glad to be out of the system.

For students, it has meant they’re paying for a much lower quality education than their predecessors used to get for free, and they leave university saddled with tens of thousands of pounds of debt which locks them out of the housing market because they can’t service the additional debt of a mortgage.

In any case, all my frustrations about that deform process, which I watched from my early days as a tutor at the University of New South Wales in 1987 till my final days as Head of the School of Economics, Politics and History at Kingston University, exploded on the day that I found out what had happened to my office in November of 2018.

From finance to climate crisis: An interview with Steve Keen

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