Variety, Commonality and Change
Edited by Christopher Hood, Oliver James, B. Guy Peters and Colin Scott
Chapter 3: Higher education and university research: harnessing competition and mutuality to oversight?
3.1 OVERVIEW Colin Scott and Christopher Hood Even though prisons are often described as ‘universities of crime’, higher education and university research are different from the prison sector as an object of control in at least three ways. First, though universities have often been harnessed to state purposes of various kinds, including nationalism and state-building, social engineering (sometimes draconian, as with the transformation of China’s universities into centres of revolutionary upheaval and the killing, imprisonment or rustication of many scholars in Mao’s Cultural Revolution (Spence, 1999: 574–83)) and economic development, they are not institutions that are ‘defining’ at least to orthodox definitions of the state in the same way as is the administration of justice (see Rose, 1976). Second, in contrast to prisons, higher education and university-level research have traditionally been a domain of very high competition among the ambitious middle class, those seeking upward social mobility and scientists and scholars vying for prestige and discovery claims. Third, as institutions that combine creativity and the production of new knowledge (sometimes of high political salience and sensitivity for governments and ruling regimes) with other more routine functions, this sector presents rather special issues for control. Like the medieval church in Europe, university academics in many countries successfully claimed autonomy from day-to-day oversight from the state in the nineteenth century, and academic freedom for themselves. Autonomy was interpreted to mean that control should emphasize mutuality and peer review. ‘Academic freedom’ was interpreted to mean not only an absence of official censorship...
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