Quality Imperialism In Higher Education: A Global Empire Of The Mind?

Noel Gough
Vol 25, Number 2, p.55
This essay explores some ways in which concepts drawn from Deleuze and Guattari’s “geophilosophy” can be used to analyse “quality” in contemporary global discourses of higher education, with particular reference to understanding “quality” as a Deleuzean “order-word”. Specifically, I focus on the effects of the ordering functions of selected “quality” discourses in three nations/regions (Australia, Hong Kong and South Africa) and the ways in which analysing these effects helps us to understand what national quality agencies may be able to “trade” across national, linguistic and cultural borders – an issue of particular significance if such boundaries also designate power differentials. I argue that such analyses suggest a need to resist the new forms of “quality imperialism” produced by the present tendency among national higher education systems to cede their authority and responsibility for determining quality in their own locations to a decentered and deterritorialising apparatus of rule progressively constituted by supranational quality agencies and professionals.