Posted by: bluesyemre | April 1, 2015

Universities: Excellence vs equity

american uni

The American model of higher education is spreading. It is good at producing excellence, but needs to get better at providing access to decent education at a reasonable cost, says Emma Duncan. IF YOU LEARNED that the top dogs in a particular market were the same as 100 years ago, you would probably surmise that the business concerned had suffered a century of stagnation. In the case of higher education, which has been dominated by American universities since the early 20th century, you would be quite wrong. It grew slowly for the first quarter-century, gathered pace in the middle half and took off in the fourth quarter. You might then conclude that the top dogs were truly outstanding, or that there was something very odd about the market. In the case of higher education, you would be right on both counts. America gave the world the modern research university. The American elite imported the model of the Oxbridge college in the 17th century to give its rough sons a polish. In 1876 the trustees of the estate of Johns Hopkins, a banker and railroad magnate, decided to use what was then the largest bequest in history to marry up the Oxbridge college with the research university, an institution the Germans had developed at the beginning of the 19th century. Both private and public universities adopted the model, and Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Caltech and the rest of America’s top rank emerged as the prime movers of the world’s intellectual and scientific life shortly afterwards.

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