Doing the PPP: a skeptical perspective

Program prioritization programs, or PPPs, are the latest trend in the neoliberal university. Leo Groarke, Provost and Vice-President Academic at the University of Windsor, and Beverley Hamilton, Research and Projects Officer in the Provost’s Office at the University of Windsor, offer some thoughtful cautions in “Doing the PPP: a skeptical perspective” (Academic Matters, June 2014):

It is not hard to imagine the disruptive effects of rank and yank on the morale and well-being of individual employees. PPP is rank and yank at the program level. It exacerbates the morale issues in a university by pitting programs against one another. Some departments win because others lose. The whole point is to separate the winners from the losers, to separate the wheat from the chaff. In the process, PPP encourages a view of that tends to favour cutting programs as a way to deal with budget problems instead of considering other possibilities like reconceptualization, the identification of solvable problems, and re-organization.

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It must be said that some of the data PPP collects can be useful. In making difficult decisions about resources, it is important to know the cost of a program. The quality of research and teaching in a program is relevant in an attempt to assess it. But a university with a transparent budget does not need a PPP exercise to discover the costs and revenues associated with particular programs. A PPP ranking exercise is not needed to provide such data. In the case of academic programs, systems of review established at the provincial level already mandate the rigorous review of all programs, usually involving the input of external reviewers. A PPP exercise is not needed as an additional form of quality assurance.

Read the whole piece.

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Categories: Austerity politics, Media, Prioritization