Home > Uncategorized > Financialisation and bureaucracy have perverted higher education

Financialisation and bureaucracy have perverted higher education

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

  1. Craig
    April 6, 2021 at 8:29 pm

    Yes, however, education is not the only thing financialization has corrupted and prevented from being more dynamic and emergently in process….that is a lot more like the natural universe.

    I’m sure Dr. Keen would agree with me seeings how he has correctly identified the things neo-liberal economists ignore namely money, private debt and banks, and we both agree that what economics needs is a new philosophy, i.e. a new concept that changes its entire pattern. A concept (and its aligned policies) that would make the economy flow freely, double everyone’s earned purchasing power while forever eliminating inflation, potentially enable all manner of integration of political opposition and even enable a bottom up surge of consumer green/carbon diminishing production.

    Those policies are the simple but powerful accounting operations of equal debits and credits summing to zero (yes Dr. Keen your observations about the importance of accounting are correct) of a 50% discount/rebate policy at retail sale and a 50% discount/debt jubilee at the point of loan signing. Imagine getting a $50k Tesla at retail for $25k and then when you sign the loan you only have to borrow $12.5k. Imagine $50k of solar panels and batteries for $12.5k. Finally, with both scarce free and clear purchasing power and inflation no longer being a problem just think of how much fiscal spending could be directed toward helping us survive the existential problem of global warming.

    • Craig
      April 7, 2021 at 7:10 am

      The one thing an intelligent person should never ever do is stop listening. Even to people they’ve decided have nothing to say. Things change. It’s the nature of an emergent cosmos.

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