Daniel, J. and Uvalic-Trumbic, S. (2011) Will higher education split? CoL Blog, February 10

Photo of university

In this very interesting blog, Sir John Daniel of the Commonwealth of Learning and Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic of UNESCO, speculate on the following:

Will higher education split over the next decade or two into a public sector focussed on research and a for-profit sector doing most of the teaching?

Their answer:

Some governments have long desired to see higher education divided into research universities and teaching institutions. Extrapolating the trends we have identified suggests that their wish may come true, with the added difference that most research will take place in publicly-supported institutions while most teaching will be done by for-profit enterprises.

The article is well worth reading for its excellent list of recent publications relevant to this topic.

I hope John and Stamenka’s prediction is wrong. We would lose a great deal if all tertiary teaching was done by institutions whose main purpose is to make a profit. What will happen to independent thinking, provocative teaching, and the individualization of learning? It’s important especially that Tier 1 research universities just don’t roll over and die with respect to teaching.


  1. I’ve been showing this article around, and tracking responses. One criticism concerns funding for research beyond STEM fields. If research faculty cut teaching down to nothing, how will they get paid, besides scarce grants?

    Another concerns teaching grad students. If we can see 95+% of undergrad teaching going to adjuncts and grad students, won’t researchers need to play a role in training their new colleagues and eventual successors?


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