I’ve recently started reading a book called “What are Universities for?” by Stefan Collini.
The book itself is a highly academic book written for an academic audience regarding the nature of universities within the United Kingdom. The issues Collini discusses, however, are commonplace throughout the academic world and there is much to be learnt.
The language itself is arcane and abstract; for example, his use of the word “shibboleth” to denote the use of a password in the first chapter. However, for the intended audience, it is well chosen.
The book is written as a series of essays structured together to form a coherent narrative regarding the policy position academic institutions find themselves within the United Kingdom.
Key words: University, University Governance, Rankings, Blue Sky Research, International Students, Postgraduate, Undergraduate, Industry, Research.
Key points from Chapter One.
- “…subtler means have to be found to manage the inevitable tensions between prevailing definitions of social purpose and the ungovernable play of the enquiring mind.”
- Universities are for the public good however over the last 50 years this issue has increasingly become conflated with the
idealthat tertiary education is a private good.
- VC increasingly focus on league tables and rankings which drives a competitive edge into the academy and detracts from the collaborative and cooperative nature intrinsic to all science and scholarship.
- Universities have become focused on a mandated 25% international population; 60% for Postgraduate programs.
- There is a parallel between universities and museums and art galleries when discussing the public good that universities convey to society.
Industrymay be better funded but they lack the choice of the open-ended enquireessential to research pursued in universities.
- No two universities are the same. They all operate on different cultural and intellectual traditions and have, various relationship with the State; especially financial.
#100papers: +10 points