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.
Introduction – Academic life in the measured university: pleasures, paradoxes and politics Tai Peseta, Simon Barrie and Jan McLean
1. Higher degree research by numbers: beyond the critiques of neo-liberalism Liam Grealy and Timothy Laurie
2. The paradox of collaboration: a moral continuum Bruce Macfarlane
3. Measures of success: cruel optimism and the paradox of academic women’s participation in Australian higher education Briony Lipton
4. Counting on demographic equity to transform institutional cultures at historically white South African universities? Masixole Booi, Louise Vincent and Sabrina Liccardo
5. The mismeasure of academic labour Angelika Papadopoulos
6. Rendering the paradoxes and pleasures of academic life: using images, poetry and drama to speak back to the measured university Catherine Manathunga, Mark Selkrig, Kirsten Sadler and (Ron) Kim Keamy
7. Made to measure: early career academics in the Canadian university workplace Sandra Acker and Michelle Webber
8. Fear and loathing in the academy? The role of emotion in response to an impact agenda in the UK and Australia Jennifer Chubb, Richard Watermeyer and Paul Wakeling
9. Challenging a measured university from an indigenous perspective: placing ‘manaaki’ at the heart of our professional development programme Nell Buissink, Piki Diamond, Julia Hallas, Jennie Swann and Acushla Dee Sciascia
10. Measuring the ‘gift’: epistemological and ontological differences between the academy and Indigenous Australia Jonathan Bullen and Helen Flavell
11. Target-setting, early-career academic identities and the measurement culture of UK higher education Jan Smith
12. The missing measure? Academic identity and the induction process Jennie Billot and Virginia King
13. Lost souls? The demoralization of academic labour in the measured university Paul Sutton