Bringing universities to account Exploring some global and local policy tensions

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51 Citations (Scopus)


Increased accountability is at the centre of widespread educational reforms which feature the rhetoric of deregulation in many countries across the globe. Not only have educational systems, institutions and practitioners been required to be more accountable, but arguably the nature of accountability has also changed from professional and democratic to managerial and market forms. In particular, within the hegemonic discourses of the market ideology associated with globalization, market accountability to paying customers (both within a nation-state and internationally) has been foregrounded. However, the hegemony is not complete. Governments have often positioned themselves as 'market managers', creating a complex and often contradictory relationship between new forms of market and managerial accountability, layered on top of more traditional notions of professional and democratic accountability.This paper explores the changing nature of accountability in Australian and English higher education, and makes comparisons between them. As we enter the twenty-first century, central higher education authorities in both countries are conducting major reviews and revisionings of mechanisms to enhance the accountability of universities in the new global knowledge-based economy. While the analysis finds convergence of policy objectives and discourses, it also finds divergences in the particular structures and processes employed. Further, it finds a disjunction between macro-level policy intent and institutional-level reactions and practices in both countries. We argue that with globalization 'talk', it is important not to gloss over policy differences between individual nation-states, and to problematize potentially globalizing concepts such as accountability within policy debates at both national and global levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-453
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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