Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Marketplace of Ideas

This brief book brings out some key contradictions in the field of higher education. Professors are at the forefront of "change" politics, yet they are highly conservative withing their own "fiefdom". They may be willing to travel long distances to encourage a small time to change its "outdated" policies, yet they would be up in arms if the English department tried to make a small change to the course offerings.
Colleges and Universities have gone through a huge growth spurt in the last century. However, today that has leveled off. In order to sustain themselves, Universities must attract more students and maintain their costs. This at times leads to people being sent through the university system that would be better off in vocational programs. Another symptom is the excessive time to complete a PhD program. (Universities use these grad students as low-cost labor, so they have some incentive to maintain the program.)
Many graduate students drop out before completing their degree. This is perversely good, as there are not enough jobs for them. Even the degree itself has only a minimal relationship to the actual job. A graduate student spends significant time gaining detailed knowledge in a highly specialized area, but is often brought in to teach undergraduates in a more general area.
Through all this, the system of higher education remains highly conservative in internal politics, while most of the participants espouse personal politics that lean to the left. Even as the professors claim to be in the "ivory tower", they are still internally subject to market forces. Alas, change is slow to come.

This short book contains a nice, succinct analysis of the evolution and current state of higher education. Some of the individual sections of the book do not flow together well, however, the overall theory theory is well pronounced.

No comments:

Post a Comment