Higher Education for Everybody? Issues and Implications

Higher Education for Everybody? Issues and Implications

Higher Education for Everybody? Issues and Implications

Higher Education for Everybody? Issues and Implications


Is universal higher education desirable? Is it feasible? This volume answers both questions affirmatively--but indirectly--through an examination of a variety of definitions of the term "universal higher education."

Surprisingly, the affirmative answers arise not out of a common set of premises nor out of a grand design within which some practices are found to be good and practicable and others are not. Instead, in the first section we see at least four quite different premises about higher education set forth by authors who, despite their differences, conclude that expansion of higher education is desirable and, under certain circumstances, may be feasible.

Some of these circumstances are elaborated in the second and third sections: admissions policies, considerations of quality, the fundamentals of reform, alternatives to traditional college instruction, new roles for adults as students, and the all-important financial and political questions, the answers to which, in the end, will determine whether the society will support universal higher education in any form.

The papers, commissioned for the 1970 Annual Meeting of the American Council on Education, make two additional conclusions inescapable.

First, higher education in the United States must make a long overdue effort to redefine "the college student." Today's working definition is based on an out-of-date stereotype--the full-time undergraduate resident in a four-year college. Yet some of the authors in this volume tell us clearly that we will not be able satisfactorily to broaden higher education's role until we look at our students as they actually are: some young, some older, some highly skilled, some wedded to nontraditional cultures, some intellectually far beyond introductory college work. Recognition of their real characteristics will call for the establishment of a variety of untraditional programs and, in turn, a reversal of the recent trend of the institutions that house them to become more alike.

The second conclusion is that such reform as is required by a redefinition of the student clientele will have to be made in the presence of continuing difficulties facing institutions and their leaders. One may observe pessimistically with Mr. Moynihan that college presidents are too occupied with immediate campus emergencies to devote much time and energy to reform. But, more optimistically, one may agree with the . . .

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