This paper investigates the relationships between globalization, the knowledge economy and “rent-seeking” culpability in tertiary education. It discusses current issues and debates about the knowledge economy, asserting that knowledge has now emerged as a new factor of production in global capitalism.

The debate about the effectiveness of universities is re-positioned by refocusing critical debate on the first of many issues involved - education as an economic commodity. The other issues which need closer scrutiny are the emergence of mass universities; commercial subservience to industry; changes in organizational governance; knowledge creation processes; the institutional impact of new technology; life-time learning; and post-graduate management training.