The Teaching Excellence Framework: Symbolic Violence and the Measured Market in Higher Education

Michael Tomlinson, Jurgen Enders, Rajani Naidoo

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In English higher education, the Teaching Excellence Framework represents a very significant recent policy lever in the continued operation of a measured market in the sector. Conceived as a policy to enhance and make further transparent the quality of teaching, it utilises a variety of key measurements to establish sets of related outcomes upon which effective teaching can be assessed. Drawing upon Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic violence and adopting policy framing as an analytical approach, we illustrate how the Teaching Excellence Framework and its related discursive techniques are significant in (re)producing the institutional conditions which enable market policy to operate effectively. The article focuses specifically on three core pillars of the marketisation project of English higher education that are strongly affirmed: the further enactment of students as consumers and universities as producers, the related pre-occupation with graduates’ employability and future returns; and the uncritical application of metrics to signify institutions’ performance value. We show how misrecognition operates by a market policy cloaking itself under the guise of student empowerment and quality, and call for academic and political practices that forge acts of resistance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Studies in Education
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2018


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