Universities Under Fire: Hostile Discourses and Integrity Deficits in Higher Education

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


This book explores the ways in which the contemporary university is talked about, and talks about itself. Focusing on English higher education, Jones documents how an under-confident sector internalised the language and logic of government policy, and individual institutions then set about normalising competition and gaming short-term advantage at the expense of collectively serving a common good. A flawed marketisation project was attended and sustained by hostile discourses, with purportedly woke universities becoming a soft target for right-leaning politicians and media commentators, and campuses reluctant battlefields for manufactured culture wars. Within this context, integrity deficits soon arose: universities bragged about diversity and social responsibility without commensurate action; global ambitions went unmatched by local accountability; senior management grew more distant and self-rewarding as contractual precarity increased for frontline staff. Jones does not call for a return to any golden age of academic self-rule. Rather, he warns that without self-assured new stories, firmly underpinned by more transparent and moral forms of governance, universities risk further compromising their standing as trusted public institutions at the very moment they are needed most.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages264
ISBN (Print)9783030961060
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2022

Publication series

NamePalgrave Critical University Studies
PublisherPalgrave MacMillan
ISSN (Print)2662-7329
ISSN (Electronic)2662-7337


  • higher education
  • policy
  • universities
  • neoliberalism
  • marketisation
  • discourse analysis
  • educational policy


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