Focus Neoliberalism

FOCUS | Call for Submissions: The Neoliberal University and its Students

Share with us your thoughts, reflections and experiences on the neoliberalization of education. Let's question it together!

We are calling for submissions on our FOCUS: The Neoliberal University and its Students.

Have you noticed the economic cut downs universities are faced with in recent years? Have you heard of teachers and other staff members being increasingly laid off while positions are increasingly being issued on a temporary basis only? Are you facing increasingly higher tuition fees, and are you or your friends forced to take loans to afford the education? Do you also sense the feeling of loneliness and alienation from the outside world in the university? Do you feel your education is all about passing courses and handing in one-dimensional assignments to get high grades, and that the teachers can never really have time to discuss or give feedback to your essay? Are you maybe feeling disillusioned about the prospects of your life and career after the university?  Do your teachers, professors or supervisors never really have time to talk with you because of the immense workload they struggle with as well?

Welcome to the Neoliberal University!

You have probably already heard about Neoliberalism. The concept of “Neoliberalism” has relevance for us to understand our societies and institutions as well as what our universities have become. Living in this world without knowing what neoliberalism is would be like having lived in the Soviet Union without knowing what communism is. But exactly how is it shaping our world? 

Neoliberal capitalism has been growing into a hegemonic global development paradigm since the latter half of the 20th century. However, neoliberalism encompasses far more than just a form of political economy. Neoliberalism subjugates everything – human as well as nature – under market values and mechanisms, commodifying public goods into for-profit institutions and positioning the state as gatekeepers for the free-market and capital accumulation. This political-economic package since then has been endorsed by international organizations and exported to countries around the world. 

Universities have also been and are going through neoliberalization. Consequently, the purpose of education has been reduced to its economic exchange value: students are viewed as human capital for economic growth. The idea that education contributes to better job payments motivates students, as depoliticized consumers, to consume the education product offered by universities for personal gains and external benefits – while they increasingly need to pay, or cannot afford, more tuition fees so that the university could make profit. Education is produced as standardized degree and skill production processes that often neglect students’ needs, the socio-political context of the knowledge, and its relevance for social improvement. Students and faculty both need to live up to top-down performance quotas (such as credits, degrees, publications) which almost always impose overwhelming workload and pressure. 

Education has lost its value of developing political, ethical, and critically reflective citizens. In its place education seems to have degenerated into mere preparation for the labor market; even university education – once a repository of knowledge – seems to serve primarily to increase knowledge-economy productivity and produce compliant students.

We are witnessing yet another historical turning point at this current era, between a capitalist-neoliberal destructive path, and an alternative post-Capitalist way. And education plays a vital role in reconstructing the new ideas, values, and actions for new generations of citizens to build future societies. 

We hope to see submissions on but not exclusive to the following guiding questions:

– How do you experience neoliberalism in your educational context?
– How can we make sense of neoliberalism?
– How can we critically understand the historical, economic, cultural, and political, technological, and environmental contexts for higher education today?
– What are the relationships between education, social and global inequality, (neo-)colonialism and capitalist production?
– Can the role of students be reduced to being “future employees” and “taxpayers”, or doesn’t it go far beyond that? What socio-political responsibilities do we bear as students?
– The past and the present showed the importance of students and student movements for central social developments: What experiences can we draw from student-led social and political changes?

Photography by Leonhard S.: Ympäristönsuojelu. September 27, 2019.

You are welcome to create different kinds of content including but not limited to the following:

– Essays
– Book reviews
– Papers
– Poetry
– Artworks
– Analysis of policies
– Opinion pieces
– Personal stories
– Collages, photo or video stories

How you can submit

– Use “Neoliberalization submission_title_author” as the subject in the email.
– Include an abstract of your work or ideas that addresses the guiding questions.
– Send to our e-mail at
– Learn about our submission guidelines and feel free to contact us when questions remain unanswered.

This Focus will run from February 15th to May 31st, 2021. If you would like to have your work included in our digital booklet, the submission deadline is May 1st. Meanwhile, we will publish your work digitally on a rolling basis.

Would you like to co-produce the Focus with us?

You are also invited to collaborate with us in the content production process, be it writing, making a podcast, organizing a seminar, conducting research, translating works, doing interviews, or any other creative ways of making knowledge. We welcome contributors from countries across Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. Write to us at to find out more about how we can collaborate, or for any further questions or concerns.

Focus Editorial Team: Adrian Lind, Kevin-Leon Kerk, Nikola Kovacova, Rosan Quattrocchi, Rahul Raj, Thea Pan
Cover picture credit: Rosan Quattrocchi

1 comment on “FOCUS | Call for Submissions: The Neoliberal University and its Students

  1. Pingback: Focus Seminar: Welcome to the Neoliberal University. Register now!

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