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Unbundling the university: reflections on fieldwork in South Africa and the UK

Monday 19 November 2018, 12:30-14:00
Baines Wing, Seminar Room 2.37

This seminar draws on extensive fieldwork within the ESRC/NRF funded project The Unbundled University: Researching Emerging Models in an Unequal Landscape (2017-2018). The project explored the impact of the disaggregation of higher education provision into smaller units (short courses, MOOCs, and online postgraduate degrees) and partnering with private Online Program Management companies (OPMs) to offer online education alternatives. Despite their different locations in the global field of higher education and larger geopolitical power blocks, the UK and South Africa are two of the key players in this emergent market. The seminar provides insights from interviews and focus groups with higher education leaders, senior managers of OPMs and academics in both countries. It discusses some key concerns driving these three groups and their roles and motivations in the process of decision-making and implementation of public private partnerships around unbundled higher education. On this basis it asks some bigger questions about the economic, social, and political implications of this process and its impact on teaching and learning in higher education in both contexts.

Dr Mariya Ivancheva is a sociologist and anthropologist of higher education and labour in the digital era. She has done fieldwork on the marketisation and digitalisation of higher education, the automation and casualisation of academic labour, and academic and student mobilisations against intersectional inequalities in Venezuela, Ireland, South Africa and the U.K.

More information about the project: