Is there a need to debate the role of higher education
and the public good?
education and the 'educated' student
Higher education institutions are `producing citizens and this
means we must ask what a good citizen of the present day should
know' (Nussbaum 1997: 8).
Equally we should ask what higher education should be `teaching'
citizens in the broadest sense of the word. Some would argue that
viewing higher education as a business results in higher education
shifting its focus to the economic success of its students and that
this focus will delineate concerns that are outside of this (Gumport
in Hodges Persell and Wenglinsky
Conceptualizing student identity beyond their role as a worker,
that is, as a member of a family, community and society, implies
providing students with an education that goes beyond an instrumental
view of it. This instrumental view of education, it has been argued,
largely views education as `valued more for its vocational function
in contributing to individual careers or national productivity rather
than its intrinsic value' (Blackmore
2001: 354). For students, is `accumulating material goods the
essence of the good life' (Giroux
2001: 6), and will they be given other objectives for democracy
other than profit making?
The language of higher education has become industrialized (Coffield
and Williamson 1997). The traditional academic interpretation
of higher education is now in competition with the new notion of
competence linked to the workplace. The traditional academic interpretation
of competence focuses more on learning as a process rather than
a product (Barnett 1997a: 30-31).
Providing students with an educational experience which is less
about the journey and more about the destination or now more commonly
termed the `learning outcome', may result in, to use a business
term, `opportunity costs' for students and society.