The Unbundling of the University

Colleges have lost their way. If you have any doubt about that, turn on your television or open up your newspaper and you will see articles on the outrageous cost of college, the jobless rate of college graduates and calls to overhaul higher education. The pressure for change is coming from outside the university and this pressure can no longer be ignored.

The University of Bologna was founded by a charter signed by a group of students in 1088. While many argue this was the first institution of higher education, others see founding of the University of Paris by a faculty guild as the first real university. From then until now, faculty governance has been at the heart of the university. These first universities were about the creation, storage and transmission of knowledge.

The creation, storage and transmission of knowledge – this is what the university was founded to do. But over time colleges got into other businesses. These businesses were extensive as well as expensive. The earliest colleges rented rooms for faculty and students in which to sleep and learn. In time, colleges gained buildings, quads, libraries, and in some cases vast campuses. These campuses had to be heated and cooled, have expansive parking lots, and grounds fitting the high status of a college.

In time, colleges built more intricate residence halls, athletic stadiums, workout facilities, student lounges, theaters, pools and a host of such facilities. To keep the students entertained, they worked to develop athletic teams where they gave scholarships, hired coaches, purchased team buses and built facilities that would keep up with conference rivals. As all of this was happening, public funding for higher education was declining. More of the cost of education began to fall from the taxpayer directly onto the university, and ultimately to the student.  <Read more.>

Via Frank McCluskey & Melanie Winter, HighedEdJobs.

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