The Uberfication of the Doctorate: Higher Degrees in End Times


  • Tara Brabazon Charles Darwin University, Australia



Higher Education Studies, Doctoral Studies, Uberfication, End times, Generation X, Baby Boomers, Millennials


Ideological expectations from the right and the left saturate higher education. With public controversies detailing historic sexual abuse, research misconduct and plagiarism, how is the PhD positioned in a university sector losing its purpose, meaning and momentum? The doctorate is not only indicative, illustrative or representative of wider societal concerns, but also requires nuanced recognition of its distinctiveness from undergraduate degrees. This article activates a thought experiment to consider what is happening in international higher education, and how this history has been shaped and creased through the (post) pandemic environment. Uberfication is a provocative trope that enables the development of a generational modelling of our universities, spanning the baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials.  With three generations circulating in higher education, can the assumptions and expectations be managed and aligned?


Download data is not yet available.


Abdi, S., Fieuws, S., Nemery, B., & Dierickx, K. (2021). Do we achieve anything by teaching research integrity to starting PhD students? Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8(1), 1-7.

Aguilar, S. J., & Baek, C. (2020). Sexual harassment in academe is underreported, especially by students in the life and physical sciences. PloS one, 15(3), e0230312

Aronowitz, S. (2001). The knowledge factory: Dismantling the corporate university and creating true higher learning. Beacon press.

Beck, U. (2001). Interview with Ulrich Beck. Journal of consumer culture, 1(2), 261-277.

Beynon, H. (1973). Working for Ford. London. Allen Lane.

Bickel, J., & Brown, A. J. (2005). Generation X: Implications for faculty recruitment and development in academic health centers. Academic Medicine, 80(3), 205-210.

Bishop-Monroe, R., Di Paolo Harrison, B. M., Knight, M. E., Corritore, C., York, A. S., & Rybarczyk, B. (2021). Preparing doctoral students to teach in an increasingly virtual world: A response to COVID-19 and beyond. Online Learning, 25(1), 166-181.

Bousquet, M. (2006). how the university works: higher education and the low-wage nation. New York: New York University Press.

Brabazon, T. (2022). Comma: How to reclaim, restart and reboot your PhD. Buffalo: Author’s Republic.

Brabazon, T. (2007). The University of Google. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Brabazon, T., Gribbin, E., & Sharp, C. (2023). The stories we tell ourselves about the doctorate and their consequences: Ageing and the PhD. International Journal of Social Sciences and Education Studies, 10(3), 1-22.

Brabazon, T., Redhead, S., & Chivaura, R. S. (2018). Trump studies: An intellectual guide to why citizens vote against their interests. Emerald Publishing Limited.

Caruana, D. J., Salzmann, C. G., & Sella, A. (2020). Practical science at home in a pandemic world. Nature Chemistry, 12(9), 780-783.

Case, A., & Deaton, A. (2020). Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism. Princeton University Press.

Cohen, A., & Baruch, Y. (2022). Abuse and exploitation of doctoral students: A conceptual model for traversing a long and winding road to academia. Journal of Business Ethics, 180(2), 505-522.

Cosgrove, R. (2011). Critical thinking in the Oxford tutorial: A call for an explicit and systematic approach. Higher Education Research & Development, 30(3), 343-356.

Cuthbert, D., & Molla, T. (2015). PhD crisis discourse: A critical approach to the framing of the problem and some Australian ‘solutions’. Higher Education, 69, 33-53.

Desierto, A., & De Maio, C. (2020). The impact of neoliberalism on academics and students in higher education. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 14(2), 148-159.

Exley, K., & Dennick, R. (2009). Giving a lecture: From presenting to teaching. Routledge. Forerunners. (2023) University of Minesota Press:

Freire, P. (2021). Pedagogy of the heart. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Ginsberg, B. (2011). The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hall, G. (2013). Toward a postdigital humanities: Cultural analytics and the computational turn to data-driven scholarship. American Literature, 85(4), 781-809.

Hall, G. (2016). The Uberfication of the University. Minneapolis. University of Minnesota Press.

Hall, G. (2021). A stubborn fury: How writing works in elitist Britain (p. 137). Open Humanities Press.

Hill, P. (2023) The perils to our universities from the rise of managerialism. Stuff:

Hoare, A., & Johnston, R. (2011). Widening participation through admissions policy–a British case study of school and university performance. Studies in Higher Education, 36(1), 21-41.

Hodgins, M., & Mannix-McNamara, P. (2021). The Neoliberal University in Ireland: Institutional bullying by another name? Societies, 11(2), 52.

Hofmann, B., & Holm, S. (2019). Research integrity: environment, experience, or ethos?. Research Ethics, 15(3-4), 1-13.

Hooks, B. (2000). Feminist theory: From margin to center. Pluto Press.

Huybers, T., Greene, B., & Rohr, D. H. (2020). Academic research integrity: Exploring researchers’ perceptions of responsibilities and enablers. Accountability in Research, 27(3), 146-177.

Iphofen, R. (Ed.). (2020). Handbook of research ethics and scientific integrity. Cham: Springer.

Jaschik, S. (2015) “Critical University Studies.” Inside Higher Ed, January 9, 2015.

Johnson, B., Kavanagh, P. and Mattson. K. (2003). Steal This University: The Rise of the Corporate University and an Academic Labor Movement. New York: Routledge.

Kheswa, B. V., Kheswa, K., Sihlangu, S. F., Majola, S., & Tsewu, A. (2022). Bridging Academic Gaps: How to Assist Underprepared Students whose Academic Background was Highly Suppressed by Covid-19? Polish Journal of Educational Studies, 74(1), 14-30.

Kress, G. (2009). Multimodality: A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. Routledge.

Kyriacou, C. (1987). Teacher stress and burnout: An international review. Educational research, 29(2), 146-152.

Leisure, T. M. (2007). Female graduate students’ experiences in an online doctoral degree program: A heuristic inquiry (Doctoral dissertation, Capella University).

Loughead, T. (2017). Critical University: Moving Higher Education Forward. Lanham: MD, Lexington Books.

McGettigan, A. (2012). The Great University Gamble: Money, Markets and the Future of Higher Education. London: Pluto Press, 2012.

Newfield, C. (2008). Unmaking the Public University: The Forty-Year Assault on the Middle Class. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Newfield, C. (2008). The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Newman, J. H. (1996). The idea of a university. Yale University Press.

Noble, D. (2001). Digital Diploma Mills: The Automation of Higher Education. New York: Monthly Review, 2001.

Nordling, L. (2023) Postdocs in their thirties tire of putting their life on hold. Nature:

Padyab, A., & Lundgren, M. (2023). Stress in doctoral supervision: A perspective on supervisors. Journal of Praxis in Higher Education, 5(2), 91-117

Palgrave Critical University Studies. (2015) Palgrave Macmillan.

Perna, L. W. (2001). The relationship between family responsibilities and employment status among college and university faculty. Journal of higher education, 584-611.

Petrina, S. (2014). “Critical University Studies: Workplace, Milestones, Crossroads, Respect, Truth.” Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor. 23: 62-72.

Rate My Professor (2023)

Robbins. (1963). Robbins Report. London. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office:

Sever, M., & Ozdemir, S. (2022). How an academic’s death by suicide impacts coworkers and an organization. Death Studies, 46(2), 323-328.

Silalahi, R. M. (2019). Understanding Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development for learning. Polyglot: Jurnal Ilmiah, 15(2), 169-186.

Slaughter, S, and Leslie, L. (1997). Academic Capitalism: Politics, Policies, and the Entrepreneurial University. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Steffen, H. (2011) “Intellectual Proletarians in the 20th Century.” Chronicle of Higher Education. November 28, 2011.

Steffen, H. (2017). “Inventing Our University: Student-Faculty Collaboration in Critical University Studies.” Radical Teacher, Spring.

Tuma, T. T., Adams, J. D., Hultquist, B. C., & Dolan, E. L. (2021). The dark side of development: A systems characterization of the negative mentoring experiences of doctoral students. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 20(2), ar16.

Turchin, P. (2023). End Times: Elites, counter-elites and the path to political disintegration. Penguin.

Walker, Katherine, and Benjamin Mangrum. “Rebuilding out of the Ruins: An Introduction to ‘The Academy and Its Futures'.” Ethos Review 1, no. 2 (Fall 2014).

Wiscomb, A. (2017) “Hyperserfs: How Silicon Valley Exploits Students and Their Universities.” The Chronicle for Higher Education, March 12.

Williams, J. (2012) An Emerging Field Deconstructs Academe. The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 19, 2012.

Williams, J. (2016a). The Need for Critical University Studies. In A New Deal for the Humanities: Liberal Arts and the Future of Public Higher Education. Edited by Gordon Hutner and Feisal G. Mohamed. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2016. 145-157.

Williams, J. (2016b). Innovation for What? The Politics of Inequality in Higher Education. Dissent, Winter.

Young, S. L., & Wiley, K. K. (2021). Erased: Why faculty sexual misconduct is prevalent and how we could prevent it. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 27(3), 276-300.

Zachariah, M. (1993). Examination reform in traditional universities: a few steps forward, many steps back. Higher Education, 26(1), 115-146.




How to Cite

Brabazon, T. (2024). The Uberfication of the Doctorate: Higher Degrees in End Times. Canadian Journal of Educational and Social Studies, 4(3), 1–19.