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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 8The Inf luence of Market Force Culture on British andGerman Academics 201


Chapter 8 The Inf luence of Market Force Culture on British and German Academics1 Market Forces and Globalisation The “traditional” ethos of modern-day universities both in the United Kingdom and in Germany was established in the nineteenth century and has been through many changes since then, usually rooted in social, politi- cal and economic imperatives. In Germany, the idea of the university was most resonantly articulated by Wilhelm von Humboldt and his colleagues during the foundation of the University of Berlin (Anrich, 1956). It was consciously intended to help restore Prussian self-confidence after that country’s defeat at the hands of Napoleon as a result of which Prussia lost all its territories west of the Elbe. It was founded on principles of ideal- ism, wholeness of view and neo-humanism. It espoused a philosophy of Bildung – self-improvement and inner cultivation through the cultural and educational environment – over and against the vocationalism of the French university ethos championed by Napoleon (Pritchard, 1990: 2–58). In the British Isles too, there was tension between dif ferent types of values. Some of Cardinal Newman’s Discourses (II–IV) derive from the Utilitarian proposal (1825) for the erection of a non-sectarian, non-residential uni- versity for the middle classes, the future London University, arguing that any university that failed to teach theology was not what it claimed to be: the home of all sciences (Svaglic, 1960/1966). Newman (1956 edn: 93) 1 First published in Comparative Education, 41 (4), 433–454, 2005. 202 Chapter 8 believed that liberal knowledge...

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