CGHE Seminar

Neoliberalism and For-Profit Universities: The Case of Laureate International

  • Tuesday, 06 Oct 2020 14:00 - 15:00
  • Zoom webinar, registration required

Register here

For-profit universities are growing in importance as alternative providers in higher education. My research analyses structural changes in the configuration of global higher education systems, particularly where states have instrumented neoliberal policies, thus modifying traditional social structures and the meaning of the public good.

In this presentation, I describe existing global trends in higher education and explore the implications of neoliberalism in higher education. Adopting a qualitative positivist research strategy, I conduct a case study of an American multinational corporation with four units of analysis and using interviews with Laureate staff and higher education analysts (n=35) and documents as primary evidence, I drew my findings using thematic analysis. The thesis contributes to an emerging body of scholarly research about for-profit universities and multinational corporations investing in global higher education.

Analysis indicates that the for-profit universities’ operational efficiency and strategic flexibility contributes to the reproduction of neoliberalism in higher education in the search for institutional legitimacy and that this is achieved through multiple strategic collaborations with public and private institutions. The profit motive is not only an ideological driver for the reproduction of neoliberalism in academia, but often a starting point in the intellectual and pragmatic configurations of a privatized higher education system by the state.

Moreover, the analysis revealed that social responsibility and sustainability in higher education is of great importance for the operation of a for-profit university and its legitimacy, and that there are multiple roles of the state given increasing privatization, massification, commodification, marketisation, internationalization and unbundling of higher education, where austerity, increasing tuition fees and the philosophy of competition and operational efficiency assimilates universities’ financial priorities between public and private higher education institutions and reproduces neoliberalism in academia.


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Dr Kiev Ariza

Dr Kiev Ariza

Dr Kiev Ariza is Lecturer in Emerging Markets at Coventry Business School. His research has focused on Neoliberalism and the Global trends in Higher Education – Massification, Privatization, Commodification, Marketisation, Internationalization and Unbundling – in Universities. His work explores For-profit Universities’ strategic flexibility and operating structures, legitimacy and the role of the state in the configuration of higher education systems.

Other areas of research include Brexit studies and public policy analysis, particularly the socioeconomic implications of Non-EU nationals in the United Kingdom and the configuration of Smart Cities in emerging markets.

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