Chapter 1

The Shaking of Foundations

Christina Chow and Clement Leung


This chapter outlines the challenges which have affected universities in the last few decades - from the globalisation of financial and labour markets to the knowledge economy and the digital revolution. It explains how factors such as neoliberalism, marketisation and competition undermine the monopoly previously enjoyed by universities. It traces the roots of university missions from the Middle Ages to the present day, and looks at how the dominance of marketisation, competition, and neoliberalism collide with the traditional idea of universities. It analyses the impact of global trends on universities in the 21st century, such as university rankings, competition for funding, corporatisation, and the threat of new entrants into the market. The globalised economy and global expansion of the knowledge industry has also eroded the monopolistic position previously enjoyed by universities. Advances in information and communication technologies is becoming critical as they transform teaching and learning, and fundamentally alter the way that universities offer and deliver programs. Neoliberalism has been embraced by governments throughout the world to reform and re-position their national economies to respond to global competition. The resultant neoliberal reforms corporatised the public sector, especially universities because of their potential economic contribution through development of human capital, research and innovation. With corporatization, increased accountabilities and competition, university managements impose greater controls over academic work and behaviours. The chapter also provides a summary of the changing landscape in higher education which includes: growth in student enrolments, increased student diversity, new sources of revenue; and new types of activities.

Total Pages: 3-29 (27)

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