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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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Chapter 4Trends in the Restructuring of German Universities 97


Chapter 4 Trends in the Restructuring of German Universities1 What happens when a highly regulated educational system – one featur- ing academic freedom, a national outlook and an input-oriented state-run bureaucracy – attempts to internationalise and introduce management structures that are outcome-oriented, deregulated, and more ef ficient? The question is relevant in many countries where universities are trying to get out from under the state, and it is critically important in the formerly Communist systems as well as in countries where Prussian traditions have inf luenced the university model. In the case of Germany, examined in this article, it has long been admitted that change is needed. There is no short- age of exhortation to achieve it, both within and outside government. Yet the German model is an immensely inf luential one, both in Europe and the United States (Teichler and Wasser, 1992). Accordingly, a change in German higher education would represent a significant reconfiguration in the academic world. My purpose in this article is to explore the measures currently being taken to modernise and create a market within German universities, and to evaluate the success of these measures. The following questions are addressed: How are marketising trends being manifested in governance and law, management, finance, quality assurance, and human resource management? What are the obstacles to marketising trends? How are these trends inf luencing the model of the German state in its post-war incarnation? To address these questions, trends in the restructuring of German universities were studied both qualitatively and quantitatively....

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