Mariya Ivancheva – Unbundling the University in South Africa and the UK

This seminar took place on the 19th of November 2018 and was organised by the Centre for Digital Education. In it one of the postdoctoral researchers from the Unbundled University project, Mariya Ivancheva, who was in charge of designing, coordinating, and conducting (together with Rebecca Swartz, Taryn Coop, and Rada Jancic-Mogliacci) of the project’s fieldwork presented her reflections on the fieldwork.

The project explored the impact of the disaggregation of higher education provision into smaller units (short courses, MOOCs, and online postgraduate degrees) and partnering with private Online Program Management companies (OPMs) to offer online education alternatives. Despite their different locations in the global field of higher education and larger geopolitical power blocks, the UK and South Africa are two of the key players in this emergent market. Mariya’s seminar provided insights from interviews and focus groups with higher education leaders, senior managers of OPMs and academics in both countries. It discussed some key concerns driving these four groups and their roles and motivations in the process of decision-making and implementation of public private partnerships around unbundled higher education. On this basis Dr Ivancheva asked some bigger questions about the economic, social, and political implications of this process and its impact on teaching and learning in higher education in both contexts.

Dr Mariya Ivancheva is a sociologist and anthropologist of higher education and labour in the digital era. She has done fieldwork on the marketisation and digitalisation of higher education, the automation and casualisation of academic labour, and academic and student mobilisations against intersectional inequalities in Venezuela, Ireland, South Africa and the U.K.