Accepted Paper:

The neo-liberal spirit of the Romanian education system: embedding competitiveness at the periphery of European Union  

Author:

Sorin Gog (Babes-Bolyai University)

Paper short abstract:

My paper explores the dramatic neo-liberal transformation of higher education system in Romania and analyzes the institutional mechanisms through which competitiveness has been designed as the main tool of stimulating public universities to become part of the top Western educational establishment.

Paper long abstract:

My paper explores the dramatic neo-liberal transformation of the higher education system in Romania and analyzes the institutional mechanisms through which competitiveness and research oriented teaching has been designed as the main tool of stimulating public universities to become part of the top Western educational establishment and to produce academic performance in accordance with EU standards. The genealogy of these recent transformations (2007-2012) is to be found in a series of presidential reports, think-tanks, national strategies and educational laws which advocated the implementation of a new type of academic governance based on a market logic in which academic workers are re-imagined as competitors whom the state rewards and penalizes in accordance with offer-demand tools of assessment. These reforms produced an environment in which the productivity of higher education institutions is aggregated at lower and lower institutional levels in order to enable a more exact representation of academic performance and legitimize a "meritocratic" mechanism of distributing budget funds. This also produced a new form of work management in universities based on scientometrics and recurrent and extensive evaluation of academics. Paradoxically this institutionalization of competitiveness and performance based allocation of financial resources went hand in hand with a significant decrease of funds allocated to higher education. My paper draws on ethnographical material related to the way these neo-liberal reforms lead to dispossession of time resources and precarization of academics, critical analysis of the ideology embedded in higher education policies and exploration of statistical data and distribution of resources based on ranking.

Panel P041
Higher education and transnational academic hierarchies: anthropological work in/on the academic periphery