Negotiating the "new normal": University leaders and marketisation

L. Czerniewicz, R. Mogliacci, S. Walji, R. Swartz, M. Ivancheva, B. Swinnerton, N. Morris


This article explores how leaders, key decision-makers in research-intensive public universities perceive marketisation in the sector in relation to public-private arrangements in teaching and learning provision. The focus is on the nature of relationships between public universities and those private companies engaged in the co-creation, delivery and support of educational provision. It draws on 16 interviews with decision makers – senior leaders and managers in higher education at six research-intensive universities in South Africa and England. Questions raised in this article are: How do senior decision makers perceive the entry of private players into public higher education? What are their experiences of working in partnership with private companies? What effect do they think the relationship is having on the status of the public university? How do they talk about the market actors? We observe that university leaders in both study countries, despite their different positions in the global field of higher education, and the hybrid moral economy around processes of marketisation all use language borrowed from the business sector to justify or reject marketisation. This indicates an unprecedented level of normalisation of this rhetoric in a public sector otherwise sensitive to language use posing serious questions about the nature of public universities in this marketised era.


marketisation, public-private partnership, digitisation

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