© 2014, © 2014 Society for Educational Studies. ABSTRACT: This paper contributes to the discussion about the marketisation of universities by providing a historical perspective. Going back to the time when the market for academic knowledge emerged, I argue that it was created through incorporating a number of inherent tensions that have been, and still are, shaping its development. I show how these tensions affect the self-definition of the producers and consumers in the market as well as their valuation of the products the market has to offer. They also influence the rules of exchange.