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Publication Details

Reference
Baatjes, Ivor G  (2005) Neoliberal fatalism and the corporatisation of higher education in South Africa.. Centre for Civil Society CCS Seminar Series 1 April 2005 : 1-11.

Summary
In a most recent debate (February, 2005) on Safm, Trevor Manuel, Minister of Finance, captured what seems to have become government's increasing neoliberal attack on all public institutions. Manuel, in a debate about public health institutions, stated that these currently non-commodified or non-commercialised spaces are in need of proper management systems in order to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. According to Manuel, the solution to the miserable state of public institutions is the deployment of a new breed of managerial types who could convert these non-commodified spaces into sites that better service the needs of clients in the most ‘cost-effective’ way, communicated in a language which has become the standard form being used by government officials when dealing with the public. All this, is part of the ongoing restructuring of state-run public spaces and part of the ongoing ‘transformation’ project of the second decade of democracy an era of mergers and acquisitions. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), like most other public spaces cannot escape the onslaught of neoliberal militancy that claims to provide the revolutionary solutions to social problems in a country still heavily stained with the deeply rooted legacies of apartheid. Higher education (HE) is disintegrating into a crisis of its own and this is reflected in the recent funding cuts, student protests at many HEIs over the last few weeks, mergers and the new corporate-led managerialism being forced upon academics who have now become the generation of suspects, alongside teachers, policemen and nurses.

This paper focuses on the transformation of HEIs in South Africa within a broader discussion of neoliberal fatalism and argues that these institutions as non-commodified spaces are being transformed according to the dreams of global market utopia - TINA (AThere Is No Alternative@). I suggest that these institutions need to be protected as spaces which represent the values of a substantive democracy and sites of struggles for education as a public good. I further suggest that HEIs remain critical public spaces which provide citizens with knowledge, skills and ethical responsibility essential for active participation characteristic of an inclusive democracy. I believe that academics (like teachers) constitute a critical group of people in any society engaged in pedagogical practices in pursuit of social justice, freedom, democracy and citizenship

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