Saturday, April 6, 2013

[Proceedings] HM Conference, NSI Panel on Crisis and Change in Higher Education: Universities under Current Capitalism

Proceedings (video) of  New Socialist Initiative (NSI) Panel discussion on Crisis and Change in Higher Education: Universities under Current Capitalism in Historical Materialism Conference 2013, Delhi. Chair: Naveen Chander (Co-convener, NSI); Speakers: Mukul Mangalik (Associate Professor, Ramjas College, DU) on 'Delhi University under Siege, or why everything is at stake'; Prof. Apoorvanand (DU) on 'Modern Universities and the Institution of Vice-Chancellor'; Sanjay Kumar (Associate Professor, St. Stephens' College, DU) on 'Death of University: Education Industry under Neo-liberalism'.
Chairperson's Address

The Neo-liberal political economy of the current capitalism is fundamentally changing the nature of Universities in its own image. Market imperatives sees them as providers of education and research services at a price, thus determining their public character. Services conditions and remuneration of teachers, researchers and allied staff enter as costs in the economic calculus of the university enterprise. This calculus measures their productivity on standardised quantitative scales, and attempts to cut their cost by contractualisation, outsourcing, and reduction and reduction in the number of tenured positions. All these steps undermine the internal autonomy of teaching and research, helping university administrators act like bosses. From students' perspective, besides the cost of education they have to bear, the new model of University education treats them as pre-formed consumers, entering universities to learn a package of goal defined quantifiable skills.

The neo-liberal fashioning of University raises a number of issues for a materialist understanding of capitalism and struggles against it. First, what is being changed? Modern Universities were an epochal development. They freed production and reproduction of the advanced knowledge from religious and feudal prerogatives and brought them into public domain. the expansion of publicly funded university system under the post second world war welfare capitalism in advanced capitalist countries and in some other countries like India, formally for a moment appeared to realise the liberal ideal of knowledge generation as a free enquiry by the self regulated community of intellectuals. However, even this liberal ideal was implicated in many social inequalities. For instance, the university system in post-independence India allowed upper caste to enhance their monopoly in new bureaucratic and technocratic elites. If struggles against neo-liberal changes have to evolve out of campaigns like 'Save the University' as it existed, then what new radical ideas on education and research and their social context can motivate such struggle? Second, what is the problem with the administrative structure and career focused pedagogy of university factories? Why is internal autonomy and fixed tenure essential for teaching and research? What is the relationship between  capitalism and the type of knowledge produced in universities today? what kinds of subjectivities get fostered, and suppressed, by them? Youth often are the starting points of social change, from fashion and art to revolutionary politics. What space do universities provide to youth to realise this essential point of being young? How are universities today implicated in the reproduction of social hierarchy and privilege? This question assumes significance in the context of increasing enrollment ratios. These are as high as 30 to 40 percent in many advanced capitalist countries. Emerging economies like India are frantically trying to 'catch up' in this regard. Higher education is acquiring a mass character in societies with increasing inequalities. In this context, what new points of conflict and forms of resistance are arising in institutions of higher learning?
Mukul Mangalik on 'Delhi University under Siege, or why everything is at stake'

Prof. Apoorvanand on 'Modern Universities and the Institution of Vice-Chancellor'

Sanjay Kumar on 'Death of University: Education Industry under Neo-liberalism'

Discussions and Debates



Yogender Dutt said...

This resignation letter written by a teacher of history in US may also be relevant to this discussion.

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