Making sense of the higher education debate

US President Barack Obama’s recent proposals to reform higher education have once again made the debate over the future of higher education big news, writes Johann Neem, an associate professor of history at Western Washington University, for Inside Higher Ed.

Today higher education is under scrutiny to explain what it does and why, while reformers from the White House to Wall Street are eager to provide alternatives. The discussion is often vitriolic, in part because of the intense pressure exerted by internal and external stakeholders and because higher education today includes a diverse array of institutions that are not always distinguished from one another. At a deeper level, however, our disagreements stem from the fact that we speak very different languages, each of which reflect, ultimately, different assumptions about the nature and purpose of collegiate education in America.
Full report on the Inside Higher Ed site