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ERIC Number: EJ1160839
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0009-1383
The Plight of Public Higher Education
Huber, Mary Taylor
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, v49 n5 p50-56 2017
What happens to public colleges and universities when confidence in the value of public institutions wanes? Nothing good, to judge from two new books whose titles telegraph the tale: "The Great Mistake," by Christopher Newfield and "Austerity Blues," by Michael Fabricant and Stephen Brier. This article discusses how the authors of the two books, written from a faculty perspective, see the last thirty years of declining state appropriations, rising tuitions, and increasing student debt as a disaster. The privatization of public higher education has led not to better outcomes, these books argue, but to limited learning for students and greater inequality for the society at large. "The Great Mistake" and "Austerity Blues" provide very similar analyses of the plight of public colleges and universities today. Yet even while working within the same critical framework, the authors make different choices about what to emphasize. "The Great Mistake" is the more comprehensive book, giving equal treatment to "eight stages of decline" that the author describes as a vicious cycle trapping public higher education today. "Austerity Blues" pays more attention to the history of public colleges and universities, but focuses its analysis on two critical aspects of the story: the "public university as an engine of inequality" (Chapter 5) and the propensity of university managers to look to "technology as a "magic bullet" in an era of austerity" (Chapter 6). These are not books for readers interested in how universities can work smarter, design better programs, or operate more efficiently. The authors are not writing here about improvement through incremental change. They aim instead to fix a deeply flawed system that makes austerity thinking seem like common sense.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative; Book/Product Reviews
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A