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The Privitization of Higher Education (Final)

October 10, 2011 · No Comments

The Privatization of Higher Education



The education system we have come to know, appreciate, and strive within is changing and fast. In fact, it has already changed. We are unknowingly living in an exploitive educational environment, which is slowly draining our opportunities for creative and introspective thought. We are being primed as political and global consumers, and those who do not economically fit within this scheme of privatization are being phased out. Mohanty discusses these power dynamics and the negative change they are having on higher education, specifically how these changes are affecting women and people of color.

As the system of higher education has developed it became a space to expand ones own knowledge, to foster creativity, to ask questions, and to probe society. “It is one of the few remaining spaces in a rapidly privatized world that offers some semblance of a public arena for dialogue, engagement, and visioning of democracy and justice” (Mohanty 170).  Thus, “The Academy”, as Mohanty refers, has been the leading location for feminist conversation, debate, and change. Through such outlets, leading feminist academics have developed their theories and have made a significant impact on our world and understandings. Through this system of knowledge development the University came to serve as a system of “non-repression”(174).  However, this growing concept of “globalization” and the expanding global political economy is privatizing the academy, changing its students from democratic and informed citizens to consumers in an education/profit driven matrix.

Intellect has become a primary marketable commodity. Education is undergoing a second revolution, in which research is encouraged, so that it can be translated “into intellectual property, a marketable commodity, and economic development” (173). We have begun to put a price on the intelligence of the future generations, and even more so on the fields of education that have the potential to garner a large margin of profit. Thus, we are seeing an emphasis’ on studies similar to economics, government, business etc, and “the simultaneous marginalization and cooptation of feminist, race and ethnic, and gay/lesbian/queer studies agendas in the service of the corporate academy” (174). This meaning, that in the near future we will see a decrease in the number and importance of the humanities, and courses geared toward challenging the “man”, for their role the market will become “ornamental”. We will be phased out of sorts, our position within the academic matrix lost/stolen by a monster called privatization.

Why does this affect us, you may ask? Not only are the humanities at risk of extinction but also the opportunity for all to be educated is severely at risk of being eliminated. With this move towards marketing intellect, is the “growing link between money, the ability to consume and own goods, and the participation in public life (democratic citizenship)” (183). Mohanty argues, that this opportunity or “free-choice” for education is only available to those with economic means. Wealth determines ones ability to not only be educated but to have a say on the ebb and flow of educational change. The education system is undergoing a deliberate transformation for the sole purpose of profit making.

One shocking example of this change is the new St. Lawrence strategic action plan.  Previous to the current President, St. Lawrence strove for diversity. We aimed to rise our inclusion of minority students, and had a huge emphasis on financial aid. We sought students who were academically strong enough for the rigor, but not able to finance their education. However, with the induction of the new president, circumstances of the university are changing. SLU is in serious debt, and so now things must change.  In addition to the new business major, enrollment is desired to go up, international students are only accepted if they can pay full tuition, and we are now “expanding admissions reach to enhance good fit and Financial Strength” (Fox). The SLU I know and have loved for the past four years is on the brink of serious change. The powers at be are moving away from goals of diversity and towards goals of profit. The president, no longer looks to expand the intellect all those capable of SLU, but rather only to those students who have the fiscal means to pay their way through. We will lose our being; we will lose the university we are today, and who is to say that we haven’t already lost it?

Finally, I wish to move back towards Mohanty, and further discuss this change and its global impact on the education of women and People of color. This change in education is pertinent to us. We are at serious risk to lose our education. The restructuring of higher education enables the wealthy to become wealthier, and the opportunity for education and self-development dwindles to only those who can afford it. One must look at this global privatization as a structure of power, geared only to fiscal production. If we do not strive to be aware of these changes and attempt to stop or delay them, then we threaten to lose ourselves. We will be giving in to the hierarchy of privatization, and letting the powers at be to take over.



Works Cited


Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. Feminism without Borders :Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.


“St. Lawrence University: Strategic Map.” William Fox, N.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2011.

Categories: Chandra Mohanty · Group Two · Olivia

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