The changing nature of the Australian education policy field; The rise of edu-business

Year: 2012

Author: Hogan, Anna

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Abstract:

Purpose

In recent years a global education race has emerged, where almost every nation faces a continuing melee, desperately reforming educational policies and practices so that their schools, teachers and students, and as such, the nation as a whole, can be deemed leader of the 'race to the top'. This context, however, has emerged at a time where the power to set educational agendas is no longer exclusively exercised at the national level. Instead, the agenda setting influence of multilateral agencies and non-government organisations is now widely acknowledged - where comparative data about education systems is largely deciding what education should be about. What is missing from mainstream literature though, is the increasing role that educational entrepreneurism is also having on configurations of educational expertise and knowledge 'production'. Subsequently, there is a need to investigate the relationship between business and education and as such, the contribution entrepreneurialism makes to the education policy community.

Method

This paper widely acknowledges existing literature to establish a contemporary neoliberal context, where education policy is largely constructed by, and around, economic imperatives. From this perspective a thematic analysis of literature is undertaken to provide background to the current understanding of educational governance and the reorientation of education policy into a commodity where the interests of the market and the state are amalgamated as one.

Results

It is apparent that the relationship between business, education policy and nation states has changed enormously. To this end, education policy analysis can no longer be confined to the boundaries of a nation state, and further, must extend beyond the well-researched role of multilateral agencies to include the role of educational entrepreneurism.

Conclusion

Given education policy communities are being reconstituted by 'Big Business', there is a pressing need for researchers to take account of this reconstitution and question the effect that entrepreneurialism is having on the production of education policy. Specifically, given the current significance of education for continued economic success in Australia, in the federal government's push to keep pace with our Asian neighbours, there needs to be consideration of how educational entrepreneurism is contributing to educational expertise and knowledge 'production'. Such policy construction, while seeming to produce valuable market information, for example, via the performance outcomes of students on international and national tests, such 'tender' does not guarantee the future economic success of Australian students in the neoliberal social imaginary of the real world.

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