Measuring academic research performance through audit at the expense of trust: Exploring the 21st Century University

Chris Holligan, Ibrahim Sirkeci


British universities are experiencing a climate of fiscal austerity including severe budget cuts coupled with intensifying competition for markets have seen the emergence of audit culture which afflicts the public sector in general. This entails the risk to the integrity of university culture disappearing. This paper seeks to explore the interconnections between developing trends in universities which cause processes likely to undermine the objectivity and independence of research. We question that universities’ alignment with the capitalist business sector and the dominant market economy culture. Despite arguably positive aspects, there is a danger that universities may be dominated by hegemonic sectional interest rather than narratives of openness and democratically oriented critique. We also argue that audit culture embedded in reputation management, quality control and ranking hierarchies may necessarily promote deception while diminishing a collegiate culture of trust and pursuit of truth which is replaced by destructive impersonal accountability procedures. Such transitions inevitably contain insidious implications for the nature of the academy and undermine the values of academic-intellectual life.

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