The corporatisation of universities in Australia and elsewhere over the last two decades has been part of the general implementation of what was called in the 1980s ‘economic rationalism’, now more frequently referred to as neo-liberalism. This comprises a steady dismantling of the welfare state in order to reduce taxes and other imposts on both individuals and corporations generating high incomes or profits.
A part of the dismantling of the welfare state has involved the slashing of budget for staffing and research at universities. It has also seen the introduction of student fees and government enforcement of a policy to make universities also generate somC of their own income through commercially profitable activities.
Ideologically, even in the early 1980s, the pressure was on for all sections of the universities to prove their usefulness to the political, economic, social and cultural agenda set within the framework of economic rationalism and the dismantling of the welfare state. In the field of Asian Studies, there was much talk of presenting Asian Studies as something useful to the private sector. Universities almost competed to set up research centres that depicted themselves as being useful to understanding the region in the context of the needs of the private sector. A result of this more-or-less systematic accommodation of a philosophical or strategic orientation set by the government’s new agenda has been the decline in government resources being made available to Asian Studies in universities.