Is this the future for UK HE?
A really interesting and hard-hitting review article from the New York Review of Books of a set of recent publications on US higher education. Two fundamental questions here: what is higher education actually for? And who is it for?
As Harvard’s former dean Harry Lewis sums up the matter:
Universities affect horror when students attend college in the hope of becoming financially successful, but they offer students neither a coherent view of the point of college education nor any guidance on how they might discover for themselves some larger purpose in life.
It is certainly a good thing that fresh attention is being paid in books such as Bowen’s, Golden’s, and Michaels’s to the question of whom education is for. But there remains the fundamental question of what it is for and what it should consist of. One way to bring these questions together would be to ask how well our colleges reflect our best democratic traditions, in which individuals are not assessed by any group affiliation but are treated, regardless of their origins, as independent beings capable of responsible freedom. Opening wider the admissions doors is a necessary step toward furthering that end, but it is by no means a sufficient one. Colleges will fulfill their responsibilities only when they confront the question of what students should learn—a question that most administrators, compilers of rank lists, and authors of books on higher education prefer to avoid.