During the period 1984-1999, a neo-liberal model of tertiary education was introduced in New Zealand, which envisaged students as entrepreneurial consumers or autonomous choosers. Since 1999, tertiary education strategy has moved towards a communitarian model. In this paper, I argue that the communitarian model implemented in New Zealand instrumentalises education, so that students are imagined as instruments for achieving preordained economic goals. Development of the human subject is not considered an end in itself; rather education is valuable only when it clearly leads to particular economic outcomes. Both neo-liberal and communitarian models for tertiary education jeopardise students' potential for achieving autonomy and full human flourishing. In contrast, I argue that tertiary education policy should be founded on recognition of students' human dignity and expectation of full human development so that students are envisaged as citizens of a fully inclusive, discursive democracy. In this way, students are more likely to realise their potential for autonomy and full human flourishing (including social responsibility), and society as a whole will be enhanced.
Barrett, J. (2007). Neither consumers nor instruments: Re-imaging students. In Philosophy in Education Society of Australasia, Wellington, New Zealand.