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Stefan Collini

It stands to reason, apparently, that universities are inefficient creatures that need ever more market discipline and corporate responsiveness to fulfil their potential. After all, what is education but an industry, and British industry is plainly more successful than British universities. Or perhaps not. Stefan Collini points acerbically to the fact that British i ...

What happens if we take seriously the metaphor of a marketplace of ideas? Philosopher John Armstrong and economist Carsten Murawski recently tested that question in an article on, by exploring the implications of a market logic for higher education (20 March 2012).They argued that student choice would remodel the teaching and research agendas of our universities – not instantly but over time, much as water carves out shapes in sandstone. The online response was instant, and unambiguous. Academics and doctoral students rejected the language of markets as profoundly hostile to their vision of a university. If students start paying for instruction, said one respondent, institutions will soon pander to ‘the lowest common denominator amongst student interests’.

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