Survival in the New Corporatized Academy: Resisting the Privatization of Higher Education

  • Ellen Boesenberg Binghamton University
Keywords: corporate university, privatization, neoliberalism


Rapid and profound changes are occurring in higher education that we ignore at our peril. Struggling against shifts toward privatization, Dr. Robert Price, a professor at City College of San Francisco, described the changes proposed for his campus as a tsunami (Nichol, 2013) and Jack Hassard cautioned lest the “slow creep of privatization does not turn into an avalanche” (Hassard, 2012).  These are apt descriptions for the formidable changes that are poised to sweep away everything in their path, with immediate and devastating consequences for educators, students, and the institutions they attend.  The curriculum is also affected and this in turn determines what knowledge is most valued. These transformations have a tremendous influence on how we as a society understand, value, and put education to use, as well as how we as educators practice our profession, generate, and use knowledge.  These disastrous changes have not come without warning however.  They are reflective of the neoliberal project and have the potential for far-reaching, negative social, political, and economic outcomes.  Integral to neoliberalism is a belief that the market has the best answer for a range of social concerns and that it is most capable of delivering results for a variety of social functions, among them education.  Acknowledging and understanding these changes can aid in the struggle to resist the effects of the privatization of higher education.