The market for higher education

Higher education is increasingly being seen as a commodity, as something to be bought and sold, as something which should operate in a market. Moves in this direction have gone furthest in the USA and UK and the recently elected Australian government of Tony Abbott has suggest that the country has ‘much to learn’ from abroad and from the US in particular.

Many people feel uncomfortable about the development of a market in higher education, or with the idea that learning is a commodity to be bought and sold and that the student is a consumer, or that education should be subject to market principles. Equally, many people have not been fully exposed to the arguments for and against such a move and balanced discussions of the issue can be hard to find.

In light of this, I thought I’d promote a radio program from Australia’s ABC network (broadcast yesterday) which does just that – gives a critical but balanced look at the idea of more open markets in higher education.

The program’s website describes the program thus:

‘The Federal government wants to deregulate the university system in Australia. Education minister, Christopher Pyne says that we have “much to learn” from what’s happening overseas in more competitive education markets.

Rear Vision this week looks at the recent history of market based higher education in the United States and Britain.”

The program can be heard online or is downloadable as a podcast and, for the student of higher education or anyone thinking about working in the higher education sector, is well-worth listening to.

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