Reflecting on the Roles and Responsibilities of University Faculty and Management
Edited by Roger Sugden, Marcela Valania and James R. Wilson
Chapter 5: Sense and sensibility in academia
The governance of the modern University or Academy is, to some extent, haunted by an issue whose roots lie in the Enlightenment, where philosophers struggled to regulate the competing claims of sense (the operations of reason and intellect) and those of sensibility (the physical sensations of life as it is lived). One social model proposes the University as the site of Reason, of intellectual work untrammelled by the distractions of material accident; at the same time, the contemporary economic model sees the University as necessarily fully embroiled in the realm of ‘life-as-it-is-lived’, the life of productivity and of material wealth-production. One contemporary answer to the problem of how we ‘regulate’ the claims of sense and sensibility is to find a new vocabulary: we no longer explore these issues, but rather we ‘manage’ them. Within this construction of management, we thus find ‘reasonable’ modes of behaviour that nonetheless address the question of economy; and the result of this is the so-called ‘Value-for-Money’ agenda. VfM operates, in standard form, by a concentration on ‘the three Es’: we begin by making Economies (i.e. we cut funding); we then address Efficiency (i.e. we maximize output while minimizing input); and, miraculously, we thereby improve Effectiveness (i.e. we achieve more despite the funding cut). Central to this is the idea of endlessly improving efficiency.
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