Academic Life in the Measured University
Pleasures, Paradoxes and Politics
While a life in academia is still one bestowed with enormous privilege and opportunity, on the inside, its cracks and fragility have been on display for some time. We see evidence of this in researchers bemoaning time spent applying for grants rather than doing research; teachers frustrated at the ways student feedback data are deployed to feed judgements about them; and doctoral students realising that they have little chance of securing full-time academic work. Yet in the public policy domain, the opposite appears true: academics left to their own devices in their elite ivory towers, rarely ever do enough.
This collection addresses the fact that academic life deserves to be rigorously researched. Its emphasis on the measured university traces how academic life had ceded itself to the logics of perverse measures, and raises questions about whether the contemporary university may well have become too measured to adequately counter the political times now upon us. The contributors explore the ways in which measurement inhabits paradoxical positions in these spaces. It sketches the contours and consequences of mismeasurement, including the personal costs to academic staff. It examines our desires and fumbled efforts at institutional transformation, and it puts on display our own ethical conduct. The collection concludes with a call to chart a course for a revitalized moral economy of academic labour.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Higher Education Research & Development.
Table of Contents
Introduction – Academic life in the measured university: pleasures, paradoxes and politics 1. Higher degree research by numbers: beyond the critiques of neo-liberalism 2. The paradox of collaboration: a moral continuum 3. Measures of success: cruel optimism and the paradox of academic women’s participation in Australian higher education 4. Counting on demographic equity to transform institutional cultures at historically white South African universities? 5. The mismeasure of academic labour 6. Rendering the paradoxes and pleasures of academic life: using images, poetry and drama to speak back to the measured university 7. Made to measure: early career academics in the Canadian university workplace 8. Fear and loathing in the academy? The role of emotion in response to an impact agenda in the UK and Australia 9. Challenging a measured university from an indigenous perspective: placing ‘manaaki’ at the heart of our professional development programme 10. Measuring the ‘gift’: epistemological and ontological differences between the academy and Indigenous Australia 11. Target-setting, early-career academic identities and the measurement culture of UK higher education 12. The missing measure? Academic identity and the induction process 13. Lost souls? The demoralization of academic labour in the measured university
Tai Peseta is a Senior Lecturer in the Learning Transformations team at Western Sydney University, Australia. Her current research interests include the development of teaching cultures in academia, stewardship in doctoral curricula, the idea of the university, and the scholarship and ethics of academic development.
Simon Barrie is Pro Vice-Chancellor of Learning Transformations at Western Sydney University, Australia. He is responsible for leadership of strategic educational innovation and collaboration to shape the University’s commitment to ensuring its students fulfil their potential to become influential global citizen-scholars in a new technology-enabled world.
Jan McLean is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute for Interactive Media and Learning at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia. As a higher education researcher, she is particularly interested in the effects of the changing higher education context upon academic life and practice as well as student belonging and learning.