This article is based on a keynote paper presented to the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), University College Dublin, 5-9 September 2005. The massification of education in European countries over the last 100 years has produced cultures and societies that have benefited greatly from state investment in education. To maintain this level of social and economic development that derives from high-quality education requires continual state investment. With the rise of the New Right, neo-liberal agenda, there is an attempt to offload the cost of education, and indeed other public services such as housing, transport, care services, etc., on to the individual. There is an increasing attempt to privatize public services, including education so that citizens will have to buy them at market value rather than have them provided by the state. Europe is no exception to this trend of neo-liberalization. Recent Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports, including one on higher education in Ireland, (2004), concentrate strongly on the role of education in servicing the economy to the neglect of its social and developmental responsibilities. The view that education is simply another market commodity has become normalized in policy and public discourses. Schools run purely as businesses are a growing phenomenon within and without Europe, and there is an increasing expectation in several countries that schools will supplement their income from private sources, even though they are within the state sector. In this article, the writer presents both a critique of the neo-liberal model of marketized education and a challenge to academics to work as public intellectuals both individually and with civil society organizations to develop a counter-hegemonic discourse to neo-liberalism for higher education.
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