'Excellence' and exclusion: the individual costs of institutional competitiveness

Richard Watermeyer, Mark Olssen

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A performance-based funding system like the United Kingdom’s ‘Research Excellence Framework’ (REF) symbolizes the re-rationalization of higher education according to neoliberal ideology and New Public Management technologies. The REF is also significant for disclosing the kinds of behaviour that characterize universities’ response to government demands for research auditability. In this paper, we consider the casualties of what Henry Giroux (2014) calls “neoliberalism’s war on higher education” or more precisely the deleterious consequences of non-participation in the REF. We also discuss the ways with which higher education’s competition fetish, embodied within the REF, affects the instrumentalization of academic research and the diminution of academic freedom, autonomy and criticality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-218
Number of pages18
Issue number2
Early online date4 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


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