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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Raaper, R. (2016). Academic perceptions of higher education assessment processes in neoliberal academia. Critical Studies in Education 57(2): 175-190.

Author(s) from Durham


Neoliberal higher education reforms in relation to quality assurance, managerialist practices, accountability and performativity are receiving increasing attention and criticism. In this article, I will address student assessment as part of the technologies that increasingly govern academics and their work in universities. I will draw on Foucault’s theories of governmentality and subjectification, and discourse analysis that have framed the research conducted with 16 academics in one university in the UK. While academics in the study expressed frustration with neoliberal reforms in general, and assessment policies in particular, they tended not to demonstrate overt resistance within their university systems. The reasons for this will be questioned and analysed in relation to a neoliberal mode of government where power relations shaping academic subjectivities are diffuse and pervasive. I will discuss the ways in which academics understand and act within these power relations, and I will also demonstrate a variety of covert practices that academics tend to apply when coping with the neoliberal technologies of government such as assessment.

School of Education