Publication Details

Bode, K. & Dale, L. (2012). Bullshit: an Australian perspective, or, what can an organisational change impact statement tell us about higher education in Australia?. Australian Humanities Review, 53 (November), 1-15.

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Australian Humanities Review


In the last few years, a scholarly critique of current forms and directions of higher education has become increasingly prominent. This work, often but not exclusively focussed on the American and British systems, and on humanities disciplines, laments the transformation of the university into ‘a fast-food outlet that sells only those ideas that its managers believe will sell [and] treats its employees as if they were too devious or stupid to be trusted’ (Parker and Jary 335). Topics include the proliferation of courses and subject areas seen as profitable, particularly for overseas students;1 the commensurate diminution or dissolution of ‘unprofitable’ areas; the de-professionalisation of academic staff and limitation of their powers in decision-making; the dismantling of academic disciplines and department-based academic units; the growing size and authority of management in determining priorities in research (see Laudel) and teaching; quantification and evaluation of academic work; and increasing dependence on these quantitative measures to define and assess academic productivity and efficiency, as well as the reputation of individuals, disciplines (Young et al.), and institutions (Levin; Jarwal et al.).2 There are also, of course, advocates for these changes: promoters of ‘excellence’ in teaching (Lovegrove and Clarke; Walshe); ‘quality assurance’ (see essays with Shah as lead author; Sharrock); and the inclusion of humanities in the list of disciplines that can become entrepreneurial (Cunningham).