As Universities Shrink, What Stays and What Goes?

Adam Kissel of FIRE has a provocative article in the new Academic Questions entitled “Will Universities Rediscover Their Core Mission as They Shrink?

He thinks they might: “As universities shrink and higher education loses air — more like a hissing tire than a bursting bubble — the pressure of competition will rise as we’ve never seen before, and colleges will feel the need to make clear what their core missions are and what they really stand for.”

There is a lot of splendid writing in the piece — this line for example: “It’s easy, I guess, to let students ricochet their way through college, pinball style, simply amassing a magic number of credit hours by hitting enough bumpers.”

That describes very well the “college experience” for many students these days. So long as just having some college degree was thought to be highly desirable because most people assumed that having one opened the doors to success, that sort of “education” seemed satisfactory. If, as I suspect, Americans will increasingly question the need for getting the generic college degree, then colleges and universities probably will feel the pressure to offer real education with their more limited resources. The fighting to preserve politically correct but educationally worthless programs — especially those that are rooted in the diversity mania — will be fun to watch.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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