Thursday, February 18, 2010

The erosion of academic freedom

Have you seen this cover feature about academic freedom from Times Higher Education:

Leader: Rise up, freedom fighters
11 February 2010
By Ann Mroz
The cornerstone of the academy is the liberty to pursue ideas and knowledge without constraint. It needs vigilant defending (Read the story here)

"It's a rocky road ahead, and many predict that 2010 will be a "crunch year" for academic freedom. Lose it, and you have not just lost a freedom, you have lost the university."

A clear and present danger
11 February 2010
Many scholars feel that their freedom to question is in danger of being eroded or even lost. Zoe Corbyn examines the threat in the UK, while Christoph Bode and David Gunkel consider the state of affairs in Europe and America. (Read more here)

"Karran ... makes the point that two bulwarks of academic freedom are largely absent from the UK. Tenure (which basically ensured that an academic could not be sacked) was abolished in 1988, and the right of academics to engage in the governance of their institutions is all but non-existent."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

How America's Universities Became Hedge Funds

Have you seen this article by Bob Samuels from Huffington Post, January 28, 2010?
"In August 2009, just one month after the state of California cut over a billion dollars from its higher education budget, the University of California (UC) turned around and lent the state $200 million. When journalists asked the UC president, Mark Yudof, how the university could lend millions of dollars to the state, while the school was raising student fees (tuition), furloughing employees, canceling classes, and laying off teachers, Yudof responded that when the university lends money to the state, it turns a profit, but when it spends money on salaries for teachers, the money is lost.

Welcome to the university as hedge fund world. In this strange new world, institutions of higher learning care more about interest rates than educational quality. In fact, Harvard cared so much about reducing the cost of borrowing money that it made several expensive credit default swaps, which resulted in a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars and the halting of an ambitious expansion plan. Not only did Harvard gamble on interest rates to support future construction plans, but it moved much of its endowment into high risk investments, and the result is that the world's wealthiest education institution is now claiming poverty."

Read more here...