2014 and the higher education agenda
For the past two weeks or so, and like much of the rest of society around here, this blog took a holiday. But now we are well into 2014, and it is time to consider what this year might bring.
If you follow some discussions of higher education, the impression you might get is that it is all about two things: how universities and colleges are funded, and how they are run. A more recent perspective has been added by some movements that have sprung up in the academic community, such as the ‘Campaign for the Public University‘ in Britain and ‘Defend the Irish University‘ in Ireland. These have focused on the status of higher education as a ‘public good’ rather than a private benefit for students – with resulting implications for funding and management.
What gets much less air time is the substance of higher education: what it does, and how it can best do it. There has, over the past year or two, been some discussion about so-called MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses); but apart from that, there is little public debate about pedagogy, or about the changing contours of knowledge, or the potential benefits to society of different kinds of scholarship. There is discussion about whether economic impact is a legitimate consideration in higher education strategy, but relatively little about how universities can provide leadership in social, cultural and economic renewal.
I have no doubt that this blog will continue to address the funding and management issues; but I hope we can also discuss a little more how higher education can develop and reinvent itself in its education and knowledge dimension. That’s my hope for 2014.