THE NEOLIBERAL REFORMATION STRATEGY AS THE REASON FOR CRISIS OF THE HIGH EDUCATION SYSTEM

  • The authors:
    Larisa V. Volkova
    Marina N. Filatova
  • Issue: July 24-26th, 2019
  • Pages: 127-135
  • Section: GLOBALIZATION, NEO-LIBERALISM, SOCIAL JUSTICE AND HIGHER EDUCATION
  • URL: http://conference-ifl.rudn.ru/127-135/
  • DOI:
    10.22363/09669-2019-127-135

Abstract. The work is devoted to identifying causes of crisis in modern
system of high education. The functional analysis and Zygmunt Bauman’s
concepts of “post-industrial society” and “liquid (or late) modernity” are
selected as methodological framework of the research. The social order
analysis of the main actors in education (the state, students, parents,
employers) shows the hypertrophy of economic functions of education and
the loss of value of the social and cultural functions, which indicates the
transformation of the institute of education in appliance with the neoliberal
scenario. According to the authors’ opinion the reason for that is that during
the conversion from Modern to Post-Modern periods the ideological
paradigm was not changed. The ideology of consumerism is preserved and
spreading by the efforts of elites. Therefore, for all actors the knowledge is
seemed not as the goal of education but as the mean of making a profit.
The authors of Post-industrial society theory believed that the value and role
of knowledge, information, intellectual capital, as well as universities (place
of their creation and concentration) increased sharply. In reality, we observe
that only “useful and technological” knowledge is valued, which can be
quickly turned into the popular product or service. Knowledge is not the
purpose, but the mean of making money. However, the importance of
universities is determined not by the content of new knowledge, and the
amount of money earned, and prestige expressed in the rankings.
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DOI: 10.22363/09669-2019-127-135
Since the middle of the last century, activities related to science, education
and high technologies began bringing the higher and higher incomes,
causing an increase in the importance and prestige of higher education.
Awareness of the profitability of higher education has generated the massive
demand for it. At the same time the business indicated the high efficiency of
investment in education and the merging of education and business had been
started. The paradigm of “educational services” was formed. The steady
growth of demand for higher education in accordance with the laws of the
market has generated consistent decline in its quality.
Massification and consumerism as a social request changed the essence of
education, the ratio of its functions and, as a result, devalued its results. If
we proceed from the logic of the market, any product, becoming a mass one,
must inevitably lose quality. Otherwise the right amount with limited
resources is simply impossible to produce. The surrogate called “Human
capital” has become the result of knowledge and education instead of the
personal development and growth of knowledge. The problem is that the
“Human capital” is mainly expressed in the form of formal indexes which is
hardly convertible on the saturated market.
In many countries including in Russia, the Education reform is carried out in
accordance with the Neoliberal model. The market logic of this model
requires either forced demand reduction or additional resources. In the first
variant, it is difficult to implement, because it contradicts the interests of a
huge part of the population and is fraught with social explosions. The
second variant it is too expensive, if quality resources are used. In this
dilemma the information technologies presented to society as a sense of the
future and a means of solving all problems come to the scene as the aid to
the reformers. From technical means that help teaching and learning people
in the joint learning process, they become the goal of education, its content
and the main channel of its dissemination. The teaching person becomes
redundant in the educational process (because it brings the significant
reduction in costs), and information replication increases exponentially (and
profits also increase, respectively). From an economic point of view, the
model is very effective, but from the standpoint of the general needs of
social development, it is dangerous.
In accordance with the concept of Z. Bauman in a fragmented, episodic,
rapidly and unpredictably changing world the main role in education is
played not knowledge itself but by various human interactions with the
social environment, which is developing adaptability, intuition and
emotional intelligence, which cannot be made by computer technology.
Exactly the multiplicity of universities with a huge variety of “communities
that have dedicated themselves to achieving education” can teach people to
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cope with uncertainty, a variety of points of view and lack of authority; “to
change the framework” and resist the temptation to escape from freedom.
But the ongoing neoliberal education reforms are aimed to unify activities
and to standardize of content, the formalize the assessment, to restrict the
learning by «communication with a computer», to eliminate many
universities and to reduce the number of teachers in the rest of universities
massively. As the result this aims lead the education system in the opposite
direction. The contradiction of this model with the basic needs of society,
science and large social groups gives rise to crisis phenomenons and it is not
possible to overcome them within the neoliberal model.
Keywords: education, reforms, social order, neoliberalism, consumerism

Larisa V. Volkova¹, Marina N. Filatova²
¹Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas (National Research
University), Moscow, Russia, e-mail: volkovasocio@mail.ru
ORCID ID: 0000-0002-4970-4338
2
Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas (National Research
University), Moscow, Russia, e-mail: filatova.m@gubkin.ru
ORCID ID: 0000-0002-4109-4643

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