Discourses of ‘equivalence’ in HE and notions of student engagement: resisting the neoliberal university

Jon Berry, Nadia Edmond

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There is no shortage of analysis of marketization and the theorizing of the student as consumer/customer and how this impacts on notions of student engagement. This compelling - but largely academic - analysis forms the starting point for any investigation into the possibilities for resistance to the current hegemonic view of education and learning as commodities.
An example of this is the discourse of 'equivalence' in education arising from the converting of experience into academic currency linked to employability. An adjunct to the commodification and marketization of education is the growing role of academic credit awarded for work experience in HE in which work becomes part of commodified learning valued in terms of its exchange value in academia and ultimately employment. The discourse of equivalence conflates parity of this exchange value with parity of use value of the learning and serves to obfuscate the distinctiveness of learning and student engagement in different contexts and the inherent contradictions therein, yet it is these contradictions which could create scope and spaces for resistance.
Against the background of academic understanding of marketization/neo-liberal hegemony, the authors suggest that the very notion of ‘student engagement’ becomes problematic and argue for wider, societal discussion of concepts of ‘engagement’ and ‘resistance’ in the academy
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalStudent Engagement and Experience Journal.
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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