Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Higher Education

From Community College to University: Institutionalization and Neoliberalism in British Columbia and Alberta 1

Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Higher Education

From Community College to University: Institutionalization and Neoliberalism in British Columbia and Alberta 1

Article excerpt

In 2008 and 2009, the provincial governments of British Columbia, first, and Alberta, second, established new model universities out of community colleges. These actions not only signalled a culmination of the development of specific community colleges in both provinces since the late 1960s and early 1970s but also moved institutions culturally associated with egalitarianism and social service (Dennison & Gallagher, 1986) both to congruency with neoliberal practices of the state and to a new institutional identity. Although Morphew (2002) in the US context notes that the change from "college" to "university" can be explained by three motivations or determinants-legitimacy, resource acquisition, and curricular change-he neglects the role of government and politics in actions directed at public colleges. In the establishment of these new model universities, the governments of Alberta and British Columbia ensured that these institutions, former community colleges, would not be granted the level of autonomy of traditional universities in Canada (Dennison, 2006). Indeed, these new model universities, while combining characteristics of community colleges and traditional universities, maintained their alignment with provincial governments' market liberalism or neoliberalism (Quiggin, 2010).

Through the process of globalization, the ideology of neoliberalism has touched down in institutions throughout the world, including postsecondary institutions (Seddon, Ozga, & Levin, 2013). This ideology surfaces through policies at several levels-national, state/provincial, and local/institutional. Scholars argue that neoliberalism has touched nearly every facet of higher education at the institutional level (Ball, 2012; Deem, 1998; Gould, 2003; Marginson & Considine, 2000; Pusser, Kempner, Marginson, & Ordorika, 2011). Quiggin (2010) underscores that the outcomes of neoliberalism (or what he refers to as "market liberalism") lead to inequality, and thus the state, in supporting market liberalism, abrogates its role in supporting the public good and fostering social democracy, affecting important elements of educational values and purposes. These values and purposes, suggesting service to communities and ultimately enhancing social mobility and further educational and employment opportunities for populations, especially underserved populations, are at the core of the community college (Dennison & Gallagher, 1986; Levin, 2002).

Neoliberal ideology in higher education can be traced back to the 1980s, and its effects were documented from the late 1990s, particularly for universities, to the middle part of the first decade of the 21st century (Deem, 1998; Gould, 2003; Levin, 2001; Marginson & Considine, 2000; Powles & Anderson, 1996; Pusser, 2008; Slaughter & Leslie, 1997; Slaughter & Rhoades, 2004; Stromquist, 2002). Almost without exception, scholarly views pronounced neoliberalism to be a pernicious ideology in its effects upon education. Indeed, neoliberalism is used almost invariably as a negatively charged term, connoting an ideology that is personally selfish, economically grounded, and competitively akin to survival of the fittest. Less noted in earlier scholarship are the ways in which neoliberalism has placed new and stressful responsibilities upon academic professionals, for example in performance expectations (e.g., efficiency, productivity, and generation of resources or public recognition), to increase the competitiveness of their organizations (Ball, 2012). Such competitive behaviours are evident both within institutions and between institutions (Pusser et al., 2011; Slaughter & Leslie, 1997).

As some community colleges in Canada migrate to this new model university status, as they have in Alberta and British Columbia, they may lose their foundational principles (Levin & Dennison, 1989), become more connected to global economic preferences and orientations (Levin, 2002), and adopt not only university structures and missions but also characteristics of the neoliberal university (Slaughter & Rhoades, 2000). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.