Critical Perspectives on Theory, Policy and Practice
Edited By Ourania Filippakou and Gareth Williams
V. Institutionalising the Public Good: Conceptual and Regulatory Challenges
V. Institutionalising the Public Good: Conceptual and Regulatory Challenges1
The language of crisis is often used to depict trends and developments in contemporary higher education. Debates about higher education and the public good are premised on the view that one non-monetary aspect of the crisis stems from absent or weak public good dimensions in current transformations of the nature and terms of the ‘social compact’ between higher education and society. Such transformations, it could be argued, require the more strategic insertion of the normative claims and agendas of the public good, not only into the purposes and policies of higher education but also into its strategies and practices. The public good discourse signals a ‘contest of purposes’ (Clark, 1995) and competing expectations about the social dimensions of higher education. Both externally driven calls for greater higher education responsiveness as well as internally defined higher education goals and purposes are now routinely framed within the entrepreneurial demands of the ‘knowledge economy’ on the one hand and the broader ‘social good’ aspirations of the ’knowledge society’ on the other (Sorlin and Vessuri, 2007). Multiplying demands for societal accountability also contend with the growing global power of competitive reputational systems as rankings and research assessment systems become increasingly ’naturalised’ as definitive measures of academic worth and institutional ‘excellence’ in the reputational economy (Hazelkorn, 2011). In an era of globalisation and internationalisation, the above-mentioned trends themselves reflect the mediations of local, national and regional specificities of...
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