Bringing the F.U.D to Thin the Ranks

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In this chapter, we focus on academic labor cost and control strategies that U.S. college and university administrators took during COVID-19 that were presented as pandemic austerity measures, but had precipitating factors and deeper roots in “workforce reduction plans.” We argue that such austerity measures have been displaced and have exacerbated the crisis of administrative bloat. We argue that the familiar management tactic of manufacturing fear, uncertainty, and distrust (F.U.D.) to destabilize and undercut unions persists and has been repurposed during the COVID-19 crisis on college campuses across the United States. We particularly focus on the ways in which higher education executives deployed narratives of fiscal emergency to justify labor and program reductions, despite clear budget justifications, and in many cases, while otherwise increasing their wealth.KeywordsAcademic laborCost control strategiesHigher education administratorsWorkforce reduction in higher educationHigher education unions

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The paper is a broad, comparative investigation of shifts in the educational rhetoric and policy of three countries over the past two decades. Using England, Canada and the United States as case studies, I argue that the spirit of multiculturalism in education has shifted from a concern with the formation of tolerant and democratic national citizens who can work with and through difference, to a more strategic use of diversity for competitive advantage in the global marketplace. This shift is directly linked with and helps to facilitate the entrenchment of neoliberalism as it supports a privatization agenda, reduces the costs of social reproduction for the government, and aids in the constitution of subjects oriented to individual survival and/or success in the global economy.
Universities and other institutions increasingly allow their degrees to be offered by providers abroad. This is called franchising—in many ways similar to what McDonalds does, but in the field of higher education. There are frequently problems of low quality, inadequate supervision, and others. Key Words: McDonalization, offshore degrees, problems of quality assurance.
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