September 27, 2010; Sebastian Wright:
These observations highlight the role of fantasy intrinsic to University system at every level. Students take out large amounts of debt in order to finance their degrees on the hope that it will improve their job prospects. PhD students submit to teach these students—and take out more debt to support their underpaid work—on the hope that it will one day lead to a permanent job. PhD students graduate, fail to find permanent work, but accept woefully remunerated casual teaching in order to stay within the system, on the chance that they still may have a shot at that precious position that will one day be theirs. Undergraduate students finish their degrees, and accept unpaid internships for years on end—if mummy and daddy’s wallets are sufficiently endowed—so that they still might have a shot at getting a professional job. If this fails to materialize, never mind, Masters programs will happily take them in for anything between £4,000 to £20,000 a year to perpetuate the illusion.
It is not so much the case that the University education system stands outside the political economy of Western capitalism, then, as much as it is intrinsic to and reflective of its overall tendencies. This is why attempts to appeal to some noble, idealistic, higher ground that University research supposedly occupies is not only subscribing to a fiction, but a convenient fiction critical for the very depoliticization and exploitation undertaken within the system.
Full article at The Commune.