Editors' Introduction Neoliberalism in Higher Education: Practices, Policies, and Issues.

AuthorAguirre, Adalberto, Jr.

The global pandemic caused by the coronavirus has exposed the weaknesses of an economic system focused on the use of neoliberal practices and policies to promote the expansion of capitalistic interests. In the United States, the pandemic has highlighted a system of governance focused on utilizing the working class and middle class as a revenue stream for the top one percent of US society. While the working and middle classes have faced the challenges brought about by job layoffs resulting from corporate mergers and the lack of an economic support system to provide a survivable quality of life, the top one percent has enjoyed the benefits of increasing monetary gains from tax cuts and stock market investments. The US Treasury and the Federal Reserve, for example, devised a $500 billion dollar loan program for large companies that would not require them to preserve jobs or limit executive pay (Stein & Whoriskey 2020). Critics of the program argued that large companies would use the federal help to reward shareholders and executives without saving any jobs.

The coronavirus pandemic has also exposed the precariousness of higher education institutions that have utilized neoliberal practices to transform higher education from a public good into a marketplace for generating revenue (capital). The neoliberal belief in the self-interested individuals self-regulated free market, and free trade have resulted in policies of deregulation, privatization, increased accountability, and fiscal austerity (Olssen & Peters 2005, Venn 2020). Increasing student enrollments, the courting of donors and their contributions, and growing public sentiments that "intellectual curiosity" should not be funded by taxpayers serve as catalysts for infusing higher education with marketplace principles and practices (Giroux 2010, Kandiho 2010, Martinez 2018, Oleksenko et al. 2018).

Ironically, the three pillars of higher education's integrity as a social and public good--teaching, research, and service--have been transformed by neoliberal principles into revenue generating enterprises. Reduced state funding and the infusion of marketplace principles and practices have resulted in the treatment of students as a revenue stream for raising tuition, which, in turn, increases student dependence on loans benefiting primarily Wall Street private lenders. The pressure to increase the number of donors, especially those with deep pockets, has expanded staff numbers in donor/ development offices, making them key stakeholders in the monetization of higher education (Schulze-Cleven et al. 2017).

Research grants have become a tool for generating indirect cost benefits for bloated administrations and turned faculty into predators in the pursuit of grants. The increased indirect cost benefits for higher education institutions from research grants promote competition between institutions that determines placement in a hierarchical structure based on the generation of research awards and attendant monies (Gildersleeve 2017). An institution's standing in higher education is no longer a reflection of its promotion of intellectual inquiry, but rather the institution's success in generating research monies and a portfolio of donorship and endowment.

Service is no longer treated as a public good but has been transformed into a means for the exploitation of students via student internships as free labor to industry. Higher education institutions are now using service to show state legislatures that the value of higher education is found in the preparation of students for future employment. All of the pressures associated with these changes have further opened the door for neoliberalizing higher education (Ingleby 2015).

Neoliberal ideology does more than just...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT