Various links

to stories I’d like to post so I can close all those browser pages:

“Students who are anxious about finishing their degree, and avoiding debt, sometimes see the breadth requirements as getting in their way,” said Nicholas Dirks, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), whose members are university presidents and whose chair is UM President David Barnard, defines academic freedom narrowly as only “the rights of the teacher to teach and of the student to learn” and “the right to freely communicate knowledge and the results of research and scholarship.” In other words, the employers see academic freedom as a very restrictive set of rights that refer only to teaching and research, but do not include professors’ right to comment on the administration of their own institutions or even to pursue their own research agendas.

University faculty, by contrast, overwhelmingly regard academic freedom more broadly, as the right to pursue research of their own choosing, to speak openly about their research and to criticize their own institution when it threatens to restrict those choices or demand that research be tailored to meet corporate or other external objectives. Faculty members consider themselves professionals like doctors or lawyers, experts in their fields who are better qualified than their employers to make certain decisions including, when necessary, to identify problems with the university.

I have noted at least four or more major changes in the University during my years here, that may provide some reasons for this lamentable decline of the U of S from a once-healthy, intellectually vibrant and employee-supportive post-secondary institution to its present toxic state: first, the alarming mushrooming of the number of administrators on campus, especially in recent years; secondly, and related to this, the subtle but increasing erosion of respect for faculty that has accompanied the emergence of this burgeoning group of bureaucrats, many of whom seem to know next to nothing about what faculty actually do; thirdly, the increasing focus on, and financial encouragement of, those branches of the University that train, rather than educate; and finally, the accompanying devaluation and resulting marginalization of the Humanities, Fine Arts, and even some of the Social Sciences.

NYT editorial explodes the “skills gap”

An excellent editorial in today’s New York Times takes issue with the much ballyhooed “skills gap” that is so often used as a justification for government and corporate interference in education:

Corporate executives have valuable perspectives on the economy, but they also have an interest in promoting the notion of a skills gap. They want schools and, by extension, the government to take on more of the costs of training workers that used to be covered by companies as part of on-the-job employee development.

Hear hear. Now if only governments were not so willing.

[cross-posted to aunbt.ca.]