Neo-liberalism and Institutionalism in the Short Life of TechBC

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Hendrigan, H. (2017). Neo-liberalism and Institutionalism in the Short Life of TechBC. Historical Studies in Education / Revue d’histoire de l’éducation, 29(2). Retrieved from

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Technical University of British Columbia
Higher education and state--British Columbia
Institutional theory

The Technical University of British Columbia (1999–2002) has received scant attention in the scholarly literature since it was folded into Simon Fraser University and became SFU’s Surrey branch campus. This article uses neo-liberal and institutional theory to understand the university’s economic mandate and the motivations of the staff and faculty who worked there. TechBC’s legislation and oral history interviews reveal neo-liberal influence in its purpose as an economic driver of the province, academic programs intended to satisfy the high-technology labour market, willingness to collaborate with industry, corporate governance structure, and reduced government funding support. TechBC employees were drawn to working at a startup university, building an interdisciplinary curriculum, and employing new online teaching and learning methods. TechBC’s institutional logic of non-conformity and its aspirations to transform the university experience accounts for its community’s positive memories of the short-lived university.

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