THE ACADEMIC MANIFESTO: FROM AN OCCUPIED TO A PUBLIC UNIVERSITY
Willem Halffman and Hans Radder
First published in Krisis: Journal of Contemporary Philosophy, 2013, Issue 3 (in Dutch)
Now available in English: translated by Jan Evertse
Willem Halffman and Hans Radder
The academic manifesto: From an occupied to a public university
1 The occupied university
The university has been occupied – not by students demanding a say (as in the 1960s), but this time by the many-headed Wolf of management.1 The Wolf has colonised academia with a mercenary army of professional administrators, armed with spreadsheets, output indicators and audit procedures, loudly accompanied by the Efficiency and Excellence March. Management has proclaimed academics the enemy within: academics have to be distrusted, tested and monitored, under the permanent threat of reorganisation, discontinuance and dismissal. The academics allow themselves to be meekly played off against one another, like frightened, obedient sheep, hoping to make it by staying just ahead of their colleagues. The Wolf uses the most absurd means to
remain in control, such as money-squandering semi- and full mergers, increasingly detailed, and thus costly, accountability systems and extremely expensive prestige projects.
This conquest seems to work and the export of knowledge from the newly conquered colony can be ever increased, but inland the troubles fester. Thus, while all the glossed-up indicators constantly point to the stars, the mood on the academic shop floor steadily drops. The Wolf pops champagne after each new score in the Shanghai Competition, while the university sheep desperately work until they drop2 and the quality of the knowledge plantations is starting to falter, as is demonstrated by a large number of comprehensive and thorough analyses.3 Meanwhile, the sheep endeavour to bring the absurd anomalies of the occupation to the Wolf’s attention by means of an endless stream of opinion articles, lamentations, pressing letters and appeals. In turn, the Wolf reduces these to mere incidents, brushes them aside as inevitable side effects of progress, or simply ignores them.
Although our description and evaluation were written from the perspective of Dutch universities, the gist of our account (and quite a few details) applies to other countries as well, especially in Europe.4 While management’s occupation may not be as advanced in the Netherlands as it is in England (Holmwood 2011), it has already established a powerful continental bridgehead (De Boer, Enders and Schimank 2007). To show how these developments are more than just incidents, we list six critical processes and their excesses below. We will then proceed to analyse causes and suggest remedies.
This article is a slightly updated and edited translation of the Dutch original, which appeared in Krisis: Tijdschrift voor actuele filosofie 2013 (3), pp. 2-18. We are grateful for helpful commentary on that version by the Krisis editorial team, in particular René Gabriëls. We would also like to thank Ilse and Jan Evertse for translating the Dutch text into English.
2 According to accepted clinical norms, a quarter of Dutch professors of medical science (especially the younger ones) suffer from burn-out (Tijdink, Vergouwen en Smulders 2012).
3 See, e.g., Ritzer (1998); Graham (2002); Hayes and Wynyard (2002); Bok (2003); Washburn (2003); Evans (2005); Shimank (2005); Boomkens (2008); Gill (2009); Tuchman (2009); Radder (2010); Krijnen, Lorenz and Umlauf (2011); Collini (2012); Sanders and Van der Zweerde (2012); Dijstelbloem et al. (2013); Verbrugge and Van Baardewijk (2014).
4 See Lorenz (2006 and 2012); Krücken (2014). In line with the situation in most European
See the full article in English at: https://www.academia.edu/9923660/The_academic_manifesto_From_an_occupied_to_a_public_unversity
Krisis: Tijdschrift voor actuele filosofie: http://www.krisis.eu
‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs
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