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3. Perspectives, tensions and trends in university teaching

Since the late twentieth century, universities have been moving toward the change and redefinition of thier role in order to adapt their academic structures, curriculum and organization to new social demands. In an age that is digital, globalized, subject to the power of markets, and where greater demand is made for coordination between the educational and productive systems, the university is undergoing a complex process of reassessing its meaning both externally and internally. Simultaneously, in both the European and Latin American contexts, the decline of public financial support, concern for declining enrollment as well as the opposite extreme of student overcrowding, the continual calls for process and outcomes improvement, challenges to our privileged position in terms of knowledge construction, increasing student diversity, private sector competition in the area of university education, among other factors, are undermining the traditional role of knowledge generation and transmission and driving attention toward other modes of being a teacher. Thus, the university is being forced by society to justify its existence.
Life for university teachers and students is becoming increasingly complex as a result of the deep tensions spurred by neoliberal rhetoric and materialized into reforms for a suposed convergence in Higher Education Spaces on both sides of the Atlantic.
As a result, the academic work – and the work of academics – is undergoing a process of fragmentation and intensification that conceals a profound transformation in the traditional teaching and research functions while deepening the contradictions between them. To these tensions we must add those arising from management and service learning.

We open the space for this theme to foster reflection on how this set of issues affects the condition of being a university teacher.