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Organisational culture of Australian Universities: Community or corporate?

Currie, J. (2005) Organisational culture of Australian Universities: Community or corporate? In: 28th HERDSA Annual Conference, 3 - 6 July 2005, Sydney, N.S.W.

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When the Australian government urges universities to be more entrepreneurial and competitive, it is hard to imagine that they can return to the collegial institutions that they once purported to be. Th e university as a community of scholars survives in some countries; however, it is being replaced by the university as corporation in many others, especially Anglo-American ones. Despite the move to a ‘new world order’ that embraces the free market, there is resistance to privatisation in many European universities. Why have they resisted and Anglo-American universities embraced privatisation? Th is address will analyse how privatisation alters the organisational cultures of universities and examine some of the ethical issues that universities have to confront as they pursue teaching and research for profi ts. Commercialisation of research, for example, can threaten the notion of the university as an institution working for the ‘public good’ of the nation. When universities turn to corporations to sponsor research or to collaborate with them on research projects, what evidence is there that bias creeps into the research fi ndings? Protecting academic freedom and the independence of research is fundamental to the integrity of universities and their ability to fulfi l their public interest function. When universities become reliant on the fi nancial gain that comes with attracting overseas students to their universities, this profi t motive may begin to threaten the academic quality of universities. Recruiting international students may have advantages as well as disadvantages for institutions. Australian universities could be lauded as benefi ting the country by increasing diversity and giving Australian universities a global image. However, there are reports on Australian campuses that tell a diff erent story. Australian students may not gain greater tolerance from studying with international students. For example, Australian students may feel that international students are taking places that should be going to domestic students. Academics are concerned that critical education is declining as vocational disciplines are more favoured by international students and thus this distorts the choices for study in our universities. Th e enviable reputation that Australian universities currently have in providing a high quality education may be threatened by the lack of adequate public funding. Th is has already led to declining staff /student ratios and imbalances in our institutions because universities have had to seek profi ts from their teaching and research. Has the global trend towards privatisation gone too far in the case of Australian universities?

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: HERDSA Inc.
Copyright: 2005 The Author
Conference Website:
Notes: Appears In: Higher Education in a Changing World : HERDSA 2005 Conference Proceedings
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