#AD: The ethical and educative outsourcing of health and physical education teacher education

Year: 2019

Author: Sperka, Leigh, Enright, Eimear, Hogan, Anna

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There has been an intensification of privatisation and commercialisation in and of higher education in recent years. Scholars have argued that this has led to ‘transformative shifts’ and ‘ideological drifts’ in the higher education landscape, with universities increasingly indistinguishable from any other business organisation. Importing business practices, such as accountability infrastructures and performance management techniques, has the potential to rework the purposes and motivations of educational practitioners. In this paper, we argue for the need to establish and debate the ethical implications of creeping commercialisation and privatised policies and practices in higher education. We focus specifically on one practice, outsourcing, in the context of one higher education area, Health and Physical Education Teacher Education (HPETE). This is because HPETE has proved to be a particularly attractive market for an increasing number of commercial and non-commercial actors. Our arguments are framed using an emerging body of literature on ethics in the neoliberal universities. ‘Developmental vignettes’ (i.e. fictionalised scenarios which unfold through a series of questions) were generated for this paper for a number of reasons. Firstly, the variety in the vignettes endeavours to illustrate the different forms outsourcing can take in higher education; from ‘out-tasking’ of individual components of a course to the large-scale outsourcing of an entire degree. Secondly, the vignettes progress based on questioning, a method used to prompt readers to consider how decisions to outsource are made and to what ends. Finally, the vignettes act as a stimulus for readers to be reflective of outsourcing practices in their own institutions. Following these vignettes, we offer a vision for the ethical and educative outsourcing of higher education and advocate for universities and teacher education programs that are driven by social good rather than profit.