Globalisation and Pluri-scalar Orchestrations in Higher Education: Locating The University of Auckland's Student Learning Centre Historically and Globally

by van Rij-Heyligers, Josta Arlene

Abstract (Summary)
Globalisation is a dominant theme in today’s discourse of educational and social politics, but its dimensions and forces are not well understood. Generally, Globalisation suggests that in meeting international pressures a nation state is less able to act. With diminished state control, the devolution and privatisation of the public sector are seen as solutions for states to operate in a global market. This thesis suggests that changes in New Zealand educational policy since 1984 show that far from weakening the authority of the state, its position has been strengthened through neoliberal policies creating quasimarkets and new forms of public management in the state sector. This thesis takes neoliberalism as the current manifestation of a world-system of capitalism in crisis, and synthesises historical socio-political approaches to globalisation and economic wave theory into a theoretical framework from which educational policies at the multiple levels of authority (transnational, national and institutional) are examined. Apart from a focus on the structural attributes impinging on reform, the thesis also argues that the global discourses of the knowledge economy and of building a nation’s human capital through increased private investment, as well as the state’s continued capacity to ‘mediate’ the expansion of capitalism constitute the driving forces for the reshaping of the tertiary educational system in New Zealand under the fourth Labour Government and the National-led governments that followed. The impact of global dictates and the tertiary education reforms (1984-2000) in New Zealand on the mandate, delivery, and form of governance of university education is illustrated through the transformations the University of Auckland and its Student Learning Centre have experienced. However, this thesis contends that path-dependency, such as university traditions and culture, affects the way global dictates and state policies are accepted, contested, or translated in a manner consonant with institutional objectives. Yet, it is also suggested that the external pressure of reduced public funding and state regulations promoting a quasi-market environment in higher education pose perhaps the greatest threat to traditional notions of academic autonomy and collegiality built on cooperation and sharing of ideas. It is further shown that the climate of efficiency and rationality advanced during the period 1984-2000 has limited the scope of what is taught, how it is taught and why it is taught. Even though the thesis indicates that the number of programmes and subjects have increased as more students continue their education, the function of universities has narrowed: providing consumer choice and instrumental value for building the ‘elusive’ knowledge economy. The thesis expresses concern that if this trend continues the community role of universities will be impeded and teaching will become more pragmatic and technocratic.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Professor Roger Dale; Dr Maxine Stephenson.

School:The University of Auckland / Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau

School Location:New Zealand

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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