«Let it Come Down»? Dogmatic dispute and Denouncing Advocacy Defense of the Public University by Interest Groups

Issue 4

“«Let it Come Down»? Dogmatic dispute and Denouncing Advocacy Defense of the Public University by Interest Groups ”

George Babiniotis
Page 81-86


This paper discusses two competing discourses on the prospects of the University, taking into account its singularities, compared to other public institutions which are also called in question. The first discourse is put forward by technocratic elites and other interest groups, pleading for the “need” to establish non – profit institutions of higher education in order to overcome the “inconsistencies between the University and the market”.Several objections can be lodged to such a vague appeal of the “market”. First, is it effective for the University to go after the shifting “needs”, rather than to concentrate on providing citizens with the education and effective knowledge / skills which would enable them to come up to the future challenge to acquire new competences, specialize or retrain? Every debate on expanding higher education should consider both the democratic argument of wider access to knowledge and the entrepreneurial argument of confronting inflexibility in the labor markets.Second, such a claim overlooks the fact that there are a great deal of organizational models concerning the relationship between politics, the economy and society, resulting in different public-private configurations.Third, this discourse subliminally identifies “society” with the “market”, conferring the discontent stemming from the diminished sensitivities of certain educational institutions to the needs of culturally diverse groups with instrumental discontent.The second discourse is put forward by the groups which claim to stand for the “public character of the university”, while they essentially deny the European and global realities.This discourse turns a blind eye to the need for setting up a congruent accountability framework for the University, accruing from its institutional features.What is needed is an accountability and evaluation process which respects the autonomy of the University and designates institutions which do not aim to impose a certain model but to coordinate the exchange of information and experience and the search for best practices. Such an approach would require a form of “educational corporatism” which would not merely legitimate policy choices but rather impact the formation of the relevant policy area.Complexities in formulating policies, as is often the case for the Greek system of education, can lead to the emergence of an extensive policy menu and policy ideas