Competition in tertiary education

Michael C. Peters, John Freeman-Moir and Michael A. Peters
Vol 13, Number 1, p.13
In this chapter we examine the issue of competition, another of the four main elements which make up corporatisation. The importance of competition is underscored in recent policy making by an unshakeable faith in the free market. Free market advocates argue the virtues of competition from two perspectives. First, there is a moral point of view which suggests that competition is the very basis of a free society. Freedom, in this view comes as a result of being able to choose between rival institutions. The second point of view stresses the practical benefits of competition in the provision of goods or services. Students, or 'consumers,' gravitate towards institutions which provide the best service at the least cost. In a situation where the financial life and death of an institution hangs on attracting students, incentives to reduce costs and increase quality become very strong. In this paper we provide a more detailed account of attempts to introduce competition in the areas of research and teaching. We also place the apparent benefits of competition under scrutiny.