Issues, Models and Cases
Edited by Carmelo Mazza, Paolo Quattrone and Angelo Riccaboni
Chapter 1: University Reforms: The Tension between Form and Substance
Nigel Thrift It is not just the top slot at Harvard I would turn down. It is the head of any university, in particular a successful one (Kellaway, 2006). INTRODUCTION It seems to me that the bulk of current commentary on the higher education system either consists of normative discussions of the nature of the university (of the kind that have been going on since at least the time of Cardinal Newman) or of simply elaborating on what is going on in universities currently, whether that be internationalization or quality assurance, the latest twists and turns of government policy on research, or what it means to be entrepreneurial. I want to take a somewhat diﬀerent tack by focusing on why the ‘management’ of higher education has become such a hot topic in Europe. University reform is clearly in the air in Europe. It is apparent that university systems are going in roughly the same direction in many European countries, although against the background of sometimes radically diﬀerent national higher education systems. The general direction is well put in several European Commission documents that have been published recently, all of which argue for the modernization of European universities and all of which espouse better ‘management’ as a necessary nostrum to achieve an exalted modernized economic state. But why does ‘management’ have such a central place as part of this modernization agenda? I want to begin to explain the centrality of management by addressing in a slightly diﬀerent way...
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