In Liquid Life (2005) Zygmunt Bauman reﬂects on an argument put forward by Richard Rorty, who claims that a university education is ‘not a matter of inculcating or educing truth. It is, instead, a matter of inciting doubt and stimulating imagination, thereby challenging the prevailing consensus’ (Rorty 1999: 118). Is that in fact the role of the modern university? Does it ‘stimulate imagination’, forge humanistic freedom, and encourage a critical approach combined with independent thinking, or is it rather turning into a vocational school whose function is to impart utilitarian skills demanded by a fetishized labour market? Nowadays, descriptions of university education involve terms such as ‘eﬃciency, competitiveness, cost-eﬀectiveness, and accountability’, whereas students are expected to receive ‘basic, employment-related skills’, exhibiting ‘ﬂexibility and mobility’ (Bauman 2005: 122). The emergence of this kind of language coincides with the process of displacing traditional academic values, such as autonomy or freedom; allegedly, it has been done for their own sake. Various types of ‘national qualiﬁcation frameworks’ and other such concepts aimed at standardizing universities and introducing convertible educational credit become more important than their original objectives, i.e. promoting students’ freedom of choice and increasing their mobility. In a nutshell, they become a bureaucratic end in themselves. However, this is not the only area where expanding bureaucracy, experienced by academic teachers and students alike, constitutes a genuine threat to university freedom. Michał Heller states that:
The deceptiveness of bureaucracy lies in the fact that while pretending to support academic activity, it actually paralyzes it, transforming teaching and research work into generating documents that drive the whole process.