1st Edition

Life for the Academic in the Neoliberal University

By Alpesh Maisuria, Svenja Helmes Copyright 2020
    112 Pages
    by Routledge

    112 Pages
    by Routledge

    Life for the Academic in the Neoliberal University investigates the impact of neoliberalism on academics in today’s universities. Considering the experiences of early career researchers as well as more experienced academics, it outlines the changing nature of working life in the university precipitated by the reality of de-professionalisation, worsening conditions of employment, and general precarious existence.

    The book traces the dramatic shift in the role and function of universities and academics over the last forty years. It considers how capitalist neoliberalism drives universities to operate like businesses in a cut-throat financialised education market place. Uniquely the book then provides a possible alternative in the form of the National Education Service (NES) and what this alternative system could look like.

    Thought-provoking and relevant, this book will be of use to postgraduate students as well as new, emerging, and established academics interested in the current state of higher education, academic life, and possibilities for the future.



    Organisation of the book

    Chapter one - The Neoliberal Capitalism and Education

    Origins of capitalism

    Neoliberal turn

    Higher education for creating labour and productivity

    Knowledge economy

    Chapter two - Neoliberalisation of the University and Academic Work

    Competition and (Quasi-)privatisation


    The competitive academic


    Chapter three - Reality for New and Prospective Academics, and Postgraduate Students

    Flexibility, transferable skills and the social sciences/humanities

    Targets and Mental Health

    Early Career Academics

    Chapter four - Struggle for a New Reality

    Feasibility of the Emergence of Alternatives

    Towards a National Education Service (NES)

    Alternative Universities


    Alpesh Maisuria is a senior lecturer in Education Studies at the University of East London, UK.

    Svenja Helmes is a researcher at the University of Sheffield, UK.

    "Life for the Academic in the Neoliberal University is a ground breaking book. It not only details with great rigor and clarity how higher education has become an outpost of neoliberal violence, it also points to how it has created an existential crisis for those faculty, students, and others who believe that the university has an obligation to cultivate those capacities, forms of knowledge, and values that deepen and extend the practice of freedom essential to any democracy.This book should be read by everyone who refuses to give up on higher education while recognizing the need to struggle over its most democratic possibilities."

    Henry Giroux

    McMaster University Professor for Scholarship in the Public Interest

    The Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy

    Author of Neoliberalism’s war on higher education

    "Higher education is now lived as an experience of neoliberalism. This book explores these experiences and changes and the damage they do to academics, and the university itself, which has become a key site of neoliberalism. Life for the Academic in the Neoliberal University is a chilling read but important because the critical analysis is dire but the alternatives presented are optimistic."

    Stephen J Ball FBA

    Distinguished Service Professor of Sociology of Education, Institute of Education, University College London

    Author of The Education Debate


    "Life for the Academic in the Neoliberal University grounds critique of the everyday experiences of academics and students against the structures of neoliberal control that demand toxic performance management. Alpesh Maisuria and Enja Helmes present a dialectical engagement between theory and concrete, lived experiences grounded in the humanities and social sciences, in order to critique the economistic obsession with human capital that demands competition in the construction of specific academic-types. In addressing the impact on mental health and the generation of ill-being across universities, the authors challenge us to reconsider the potential for alternative structures, governance and regulation surrounding higher education. The book culminates with a provocative argument for a National Education Service (NES) based on co-operative principles and practices, which should ignite much needed discussion and action. As a result, this is an important book in addressing the potential for the democratic production of the University infused with a humanist tradition."

    Richard Hall

    Professor of Education and Technology, De Montfort University, and National Teaching Fellow

    Author of The Alienated Academic: The Struggle for Autonomy Inside the University