The Economically Necessary, Public University,
Curriculum Focus on STEM
(science, technology, engineering and mathematics)
the Traditionally Desirable Inclusion of the Humanities.
(ancient and modern languages, literature, philosophy, history,
archaeology, anthropology, human geography, law, politics, religion, and art)
It seems reasonable to me that publicly financed institutions serve the public’s interest. In the current situation American university students require jobs to justify their time and expense as invested in obtaining the graduation credentials of studies completion.
It would be wonderful if, as in the past, universities could afford the faculty and support staff necessary to offer a broad range of subjects such as humanities. French and/or English literature is certainly interesting to some and ultimately useful to some of the some. Archaeology and anthropology are surely interesting to those students interested in the past events and the accrual of knowledge.
However, in the current international competition for good jobs will other than STEM subject expertise be truly useful in the launching of careers?
Companies hiring university graduates are in many cases seeking human machines who will perform functions in a satisfactory and predictable manner. Some of these workers will personally develop and evolve and be able to move on to other functions within the employing organizations.
As employees, the workers will be able to support themselves and ultimately in many cases their families and their communities will benefit.
This is the way it now, and will in the immediate future, work. Employers employ those believed to be best able to perform the needed functions.
In America, the greatest need for university graduates will be in the STEM related areas. Employers requiring graduates having other interests will either seek the from privately funded universities or public institutions able to offer specialized subjects to students.
It is not a pretty picture compared to that which we have known. Publicly funded universities becoming primarily trade schools is other than ideal, but the vision reflects the needs of the students, employers and communities. These are likely to be tough times and a number of educational institutions will have to change or perish. The traditions of academia will have to change, certainly in publicly funded institutions.
My academic friends are going to disagree with the above, as with the changes envisioned their lives will be impacted. They will assert that the necessary money will come from some place, probably the government. Unfortunately, government funding for humanities education is likely to continue to be reduced.
It is possible the role of publicly funded universities will have to be focused on meeting the immediate needs of students, and not on basic research or increasing the knowledge of faculty members. Applied research can be financed by the direct beneficiaries.
In sum, I will be pleased to be wrong but must suggest to my friends in the business of providing education that there must be a better matching of buyer and seller interests for the sellers to survive.
Arthur Lipper, Chairman
British Far East Holdings Ltd.
+1 858 793 7100
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