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Neoliberal Developments in Higher Education

The United Kingdom and Germany

Rosalind Pritchard

The paradigmatic values underlying British and German higher education emphasise personal growth, the wholeness of the individual, intellectual freedom and the pursuit of knowledge, which cumulatively can be viewed as a form of academic essentialism. However, these concepts were generated within a particular cultural and historical context which has largely been supplanted by neoliberalism. This book studies the emergence over the last twenty years of trends that define themselves in opposition to the traditional university ethos. It addresses the first experiments with private universities in both the United Kingdom and Germany, the instigation of bidding and competition for funding, the assertion of a practical over a theoretical focus in British teacher education and the contrasting views of their institutions held by British and German students and staff. It shows how the antithesis of a neoliberal university system, that of the former German Democratic Republic, was transformed under the impact of unification policies. The author also analyses important social issues, such as gender, in relation to the academic profession, highlighting how the individual may feel atomised despite a discourse of equality. Finally, the two higher education systems are examined within the context of the Bologna Process, which in many respects embraces academic capitalism – the epitome of neoliberalism. The book encompasses both qualitative and quantitative research spanning two decades of scholarship, and reflects the author’s profound engagement with universities and with British and German academic culture.


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List of Tables ix


List of Tables Table 7.1a Types of Course Being Followed in UK 182 Table 7.1b Types of Course Being Followed in Germany 182 Table 7.2a Numbers of Students by Country and Gender 183 Table 7.2b Numbers of Students by Country and Age 184 Table 7.3 Unity of Teachers and Learners 186 Table 7.4 Academic Engagement within the Human Framework 187 Table 7.5 Student Attitudes towards Personal and Intellectual Development 188 Table 7.6 Instrumental Orientation of Students 189 Table 7.7 Attitudes towards Research 190 Table 7.8 Student Choice of University 191 Table 7.9 Student Perception of Quality Assurance 192 Table 7.10 Summative Judgement of Student Satisfaction 193 Table 7.11 Students’ Enthusiasm for their Institutions 194 Table 8.1 Perception of Resource Deprivation by UK and German Academics 208 Table 8.2 UK and FRG Academics’ Perceptions of the State’s Role in Higher Education 209 Table 8.3 Support for Executive Power and Perceptions of Senate’s Role 212 Table 8.4 Acceptance of the Evaluation Culture 216 Table 8.5 Quality Assurance in Teaching 217 Table 8.6 Attitudes towards Core Academic Tasks 219 Table 8.7 Perception of Work Burden by UK and FRG Academics 220 Table 8.8 Dif ferential Perceptions of Status among British and German Academics 223 Table 8.9 Overall Satisfaction Ratings 224 x List of Tables Table 9.1 Numbers of Female Academics Interviewed in the UK and Germany, by Subject 232 Table 10.1 Expenditure on Tertiary Education as a Percentage of GDP, by Source of Fund (2007) 282

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