The university and academic work have been challenged to become more efficient under the criteria of the New Public Management, promoting privatization and performance management and financing models. Chile, considered an emblematic case, has carried out new reforms in response to student mobilizations that have questioned this model since 2011. This article addresses the debate around these reforms, displayed in opinion columns, editorials and letters to the editor in the main media. The results show the dispute between two versions of university and academic work: the managerialist, oriented to competence, standards and indicators, and the Humboldtian based on constant appeals to a “better past” that was truncated. These versions show the limits of the debate and of the possibility of imagining a future of the university beyond managerialism.