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PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, EDUCATION (oxfordre.com/education). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 19 September 2020

Summary and Keywords

There are two alternative perspectives on higher education, one of which sees it as a means of augmenting the recipient’s employment prospects and earning capacity through the imparting of skills, while the other sees it as fulfilling a social role beyond merely supplying skilled personnel. While the conversion of higher education into a commodity that is sold for profit in commercially run private institutions is in sync with the first perspective, the second demands that education should be primarily the responsibility of the government and should be mainly publicly funded. The second perspective informed the anti-colonial struggle in the developing world and the policies of the dirigiste regimes that came up post-decolonization. But under the subsequent neoliberal regime, the first perspective has come to the fore, and there has been a significant commoditization of higher education. This has the effect of excluding large numbers of students from deprived backgrounds from the ambit of higher education, of constricting free and creative thinking, and consequently of destroying rational discourse and giving free rein to fascist, semi-fascist, and fundamentalist forces that can do great damage to the fragile structures of developing societies. An awareness of these dangers is necessary if appropriate interventions to prevent such a denouement are to be undertaken in the sphere of higher education.

Keywords: organic intellectuals, neo-liberal regime, commoditization of education, unreason, nation-building

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