Neoliberalism, Academic Capitalism and Higher Education in Developing Countries: The Case of Iraqi Kurdistan

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Virginia Tech

This study was undertaken to begin to understand better the emergence of academic capitalism in public higher education in less developed countries. How and why income-generating practices have appeared in public universities in less developed countries has not been well examined (Maldonado-Maldonado 2014, 201). I chose the Iraqi Kurdistan region as the locus for this study in part for convenience, but also because it is unique in having emerged after the Second Gulf War from an oppressive National Socialist ruling government overtly hostile to market-based economic activities (Republic of Iraq 1970, Article 28).

I found several instances of academic capitalist/income generating activities at Kurdish public universities. Consulting and language centers were in place well before the study began. Evening programs and parallel education emerged over the course of the inquiry as the economy in the region declined. I also elaborate on the specific relationship between the Kurdish Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the region's universities in developing and fostering different types of academic capitalism. Such cooperation is previously undescribed in the literature.

I used an academic capitalism theoretical framework to guide my inquiry. This model provides four observable characteristics of neoliberal educational reform on higher education: new circuits of knowledge, interstitial organizational emergence, intermediating organizations, and expanded managerial capacity (Slaughter and Rhoades 2004, 26).

I collected data through semi-structured interviews and document analysis. Following on similar approaches by Hackett (1990, 249) and Kleinman and Vallas (2007, 290), this study incorporated selective sampling of institutions which were likely to be engaged in academic capitalism, and included Ministry of Higher Education officials, as well as public university administrators and faculty members who were likely to have knowledge of these academic capitalism activities.

Education, Higher, Neoliberalism, Academic Capitalism, Privatization, Kurdistan, Iraq