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This paper presents an analysis of the ways in which UK higher education (HE) has become increasingly commercialised and commodified in the post-1980s. It critiques the strategies adopted by successive UK governments to reinvigorate the relationship between educational and economic life, and to facilitate a more corporate and entrepreneurial spirit within the academy in line with the pressures of a 'knowledge-based economy'. Arguing for a more critical exploration of teaching and learning within HE, the paper presents evidence from work carried out by the Reinvention Centre for Undergraduate Research, a Centre for Excellence in Teaching in Learning (CETL) which adopts a research-based learning approach to teaching and learning at undergraduate level. Within the context of ongoing debates surrounding the relationship between teaching, learning and research in UK HE, the paper advocates a reinvention of curriculum design through an engagement with the broader principles of critical pedagogy, and in so doing, presents a critical engagement with the commercialisation of HE.

Original publication




Journal article


Teaching in Higher Education

Publication Date





525 - 537