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School of Business and Management

The Calculative Practices of Higher Education and Academic Freedom

When: Tuesday, June 21, 2022, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Where: GC601, QMUL Graduate Centre Mile End Road London, Mile End Campus

This event aims to enhance critical and intellectual reflection around the deployment of metrics within higher education, understood as a direct translation of the neoliberal transformation of higher education. More precisely, it aims to discuss (1) the political roots of these changes, (2) the way it impacts and constrains the diversity of research production and methods, and finally (3) explore avenues to resist it in order to keep producing meaningful research contributions.

As part of its yearly activity the Accounting and Accountability Research Group (AARG) is aiming to organise a workshop entitled: The transformation of higher education through calculative practices: A reflection on the transformation of academic work and academic freedom.

The workshop aims to discuss how metrics have transformed academic practices, academic production, academic discourses, academic subjects, etc over the years. It aims to cover a variety of metrics (ranking, workload model, teaching evaluation, performance evaluations metrics, promotion and hiring criteria…), through a diversity of perspectives gathered within three round table discussions.

Each round table will gather three to four experts (plus a moderator) to facilitate a discussion around a specific topic. However, those round tables do not aim to be discussions between ‘the experts’ only. A strong emphasis will be put on the general reflection with all conference participants. Precisely, the workshop aims to provide a democratic space for intellectual reflexion between academic from different disciplines (the workshop is open to any academic that feels concerned by the growth of calculative practices in higher education) and at different stages of their career (from Doctoral students to Emeritus Professors) to reflect on the varieties of experiences.

Each round tables should last 90 min and will cover the following topics:

1) The Politics of calculative within higher education

This first round table aims to reflect on the political roots, but as well as on the political consequences of the transformation of higher education with regard to the reorganisation of society around market mechanisms, but also to follow Brown (2019) toward a certain form of extreme conservatism to weight the extent to which such practices limit academic freedom.


  • Andrea Mennicken – LSE
  • Gerard Hanlon – QMUL
  • Afshin Mehrpouya- University of Edinburgh Business School

2) Calculative practices in higher education and diversity

The second round-table aims to discuss to which extent calculative practices reduce research diversity, that is, at least, on the one hand, limit research diversity in terms of research practices and research paradigms and on the other hand limit researcher inclusion (in terms, of classes, races, gender, sexuality, disability, etc.)


  • Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra – University of San Diego
  • Amit Rai – QMUL
  • Ahu Tatli – QMUL
  • Giovanna Michelon – University of Bristol

3) Calculative practices and resistance

The last round table aims to discuss more broadly the possibility of resistance to this transformation of higher education and the possibility of reinvention of the sector, by exploring on one hand alternative work practices but as well the elaboration of more collective actions. This round table aims to open the discussion to civil society actors (Unions, academic colleagues, and so on…)


  • Christine Cooper – University of Edinburgh
  • Simon Lilley – University of Lincoln
  • David Harvie – University of Leeds

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