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The McDonaldization of higher education2017 saw the publication of 'Beyond McDonaldization: Visions of Higher Education' (Routledge), the first chapter of which, 'Beyond the McDonaldization of Higher Education', develops and updates the ideas in this paper, which is an edited and revised version of the 'Introduction' to Dennis Hayes and Robin Wynyard’s book 'The McDonaldization of Higher Education' (Bergin and Garvey 2002). This well-received book introduced, and presented some criticisms of, the concept of 'McDonaldization' and examined the consequences of the process of McDonaldization to the university. A notable idea in the 2002 book was the concept of the 'therapeutic university' which, in part, explained the acquiescence of academics and students to the bureaucratising aspects of McDonaldization. The term is now widely used to describe a cultural climate in universities that sees today’s students as emotionally vulnerable and incapable of coping with challenging ideas.
The McDonaldization of higher education revisited.Since The McDonaldization of Higher Education was published in 2002 the McDonaldizing processes of efficiency, predictability, reliability and control seem to have come to dominate universities throughout the world through turning students into consumers who buy degrees made up of bite-sized, credit-rated modules, subjecting universities to the requirements of national and global league tables and re-constructing lecturers as facilitators of the ‘student experience’. The success of university management in restructuring universities as McBusinesses is premised on a seeming contradiction. As universities have been McDonaldized they have spontaneously embraced therapy culture and have become therapeutic universities. The therapeutic approach towards students adopted by management was supported by academics who failed to see or challenge the new student-centred culture. Therapy Culture was not contradictory but complementary to the ruthless McDonaldization of universities. Discussions of the marketization and bureaucratization of higher education have been ineffectual in terms of understanding the importance of the therapeutic turn and therefore have not been able to cohere any effective resistance to McDonaldization. Taking our previous work forward, we examine the ineluctable connection between the forces leading to McDonaldization and the therapeutic turn and how they are leading to the McDonaldization of the student soul.