Accepted Paper:

has pdf download Reforming New Zealand's universities: reflections on the production of academic subjects   


Cris Shore (Goldsmiths)

Paper short abstract:

The restructuring of universities in New Zealand is often seen as a paradigm case of neo-liberal governance. Drawing on fieldwork among university staff and students, I explore the contradictions inherent in the reform process and the conflicting visions and practices it has engendered.

Paper long abstract:

The restructuring of education in New Zealand is often proclaimed as a paradigm case of neo-liberal governance and New Public Management. In New Zealand, as in Europe, universities have become central to government's vision of the future, one increasingly shaped to meet the demands of the global knowledge economy. However, that vision contains contradictory agendas. While government calls on universities to drive its 'economic transformation agenda' and promote greater internationalization and commercialization of university research, it also expects universities to play a key role in nation-building, social cohesion and 'national identity' - as well as upholding the mantle of 'critic and conscience of society'.

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, this paper explores the consequences of these often contradictory agendas. It asks: how are universities reconciling the multiple purposes they have been ascribed? How do staff and students experience these reforms, and how are they impacting on academic culture and practice? What new kinds of political subjects and subjectivities are being created as a result of these changes?

Architects of the EU's 'Bologna Process' have noted that university reforms can only take effect if they are 'owned' by academics and incorporated into their everyday thinking and practice. Focusing on recent examples of conflict and tension within New Zealand's universities, the paper explores the extent to which academics and students have embraced and internalized management's vision for its universities, and the technologies and pressures that have been brought to bear to make them do so.

Panel W034
Anthropologies of university reform: restructuring of higher education - anthropological perspectives