Putting the university to work: technology-mediated extraction of land and labour from UK universities

Mariya Ivancheva, University of Liverpool
Brian Garvey, University of Strathclyde

The return of academic workers from the UK’s most prolonged industrial action in higher education coincided with the onset of a global pandemic. The emergency push to online provision to maintain educational production, retain and attract future students, increased the visibility and frequency of commercial partnerships with digital education providers. Reviewing its origins in the neoliberal restructuring of UK higher education, this paper demonstrates how technologically-induced transformation to academic knowledge production has increasingly subsumed the functionality of the university towards market-oriented profiteering, while producing new divisions of labour. With a focus on the teaching and student facing roles that are increasingly undertaken by casualised, outsourced and deprofessionalised staff, the paper explores how digital technologies- radically dissolving of work/home boundaries amidst pandemic- facilitate further value capture from academic workers with profound implications for the organisation and experience of HE work and challenges to collective resistance to real subsumption of academic labour.