Hugh Willmott: Commercialising Higher Education in the UK: The State, Industry and Peer Review (PDF)

Hugh Willmott: Commercialising Higher Education in the UK: The State, Industry and Peer Review (PDF)

It is argued that the significance of the Research Assessment Exercises (RAEs) does not reside primarily in their rationalisation of resources for research or in securing improvements in accountability for their expenditure, but, rather, in their contribution to legitimising the restructuring of higher education which has included the withdrawal of research funding from an increasing proportion of academics and departments. Through a selective application of peer review procedures the exercises have facilitated a simultaneous expansion of higher education with the reduction in unit costs. In turn, these reductions have further stimulated pressures and competition to attract privately funded projects as a way of supporting or maintaining resource flows into Universities. The paper focuses upon two related issues. First, the progressive tightening of the coupling between research activity with ‘the needs of industry’; and, secondly, the use of a system that simulates peer review to legitimise this process.

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