Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Labour as Gift: Gift Economies in the Neoliberal University

Document type Article
Author Gaertner, Dave
Journal ESC: English Studies in Canada
Volume 35
Date 2009
ISSN 1913-4835
Pages 15-18


As a result of decreased funding from the state, universities rely more and more on user fees, that is, tuition, to cover operation costs. According to Tyler Shipley, this situation has led to a “factory model of education” in which the focus of administrators is to pump as many undergraduates through the system as possible. Classes that once held fifty students now hold 150, those that once held 150 now hold 500. To accommodate this mass influx of students, universities are left scrambling to find cost-efficient means to get these students through the system, which more than often means expanding graduate programs in order to build a workforce (that is, teaching assistants and sessionals) that can teach classes, mark papers, and mediate distance education courses at a fraction of the price it would cost to pay a tenured professor.