Higher Education: Investment or Waste?

Wednesday 22 January

19:00 – 20:30
Open Forum - Swiss Alpine School (SAMD), Auditorium

Benjamin Franklin once said, «An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.» Yet today, the US has a trillion dollar student loan bubble and the graduate unemployment rate has reached a staggering 14%. With over 285,000 university graduates working at minimum wage in the US, many students are faced with buyer's remorse. Is it time to reconsider whether a college degree is worth the investment?

  • What is the impact of Massive Open Online Courses on traditional higher education?
  • Will Generation Y youth be better or worse off than their parents? What are the implications?

Comments

Comment by Henk van Dijk | 07.01.2014

Uniting in Defence of Higher Education in the World...‏

http://cdbu.org.uk/about/who-we-are/
https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fcdbu.org.uk%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2013%2F02%2FCDBUposter1.pdf
https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fcdbu.org.uk%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2013%2F02%2FCDBUposter2aims.pdf
http://cdbu.org.uk/about/who-we-are/exec/
https://www.hochschulwatch.de/wiki/Hauptseite (Germany)
http://voice.euraxess.org/about-vor
http://am.ascb.org/dora/ (USA.San.Francisco 1001 People & 450 companies)
http://am.ascb.org/dora/files/SFDeclarationFINAL.pdf
http://slow-science.org/ Berlin/Germany
http://slow-science.org/slow-science-manifesto.pdf
http://actiegroephogeronderwijs.wordpress.com/ (Belgie)
http://actiegroephogeronderwijs.wordpress.com/info-onderwijsbeleid/ (more info)
http://www.bnr.nl/nieuws/215553-1311/gemor-over-managementcultuur-universiteiten
http://platform-hnu.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/hnu_drukwerk.pdf
http://www.scienceintransition.nl/nieuws/platform-hervorming-nederlandse-universiteiten-opgericht
http://universonline.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Platform-H-NU-uitgangspunten-en-doelstellingen.pdf
http://www.scienceintransition.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Science-in-Transition-Position-Paper-final.pdf
http://chronicle.com/section/Home/5 (USA)
http://chronicle.com/section/Business-Contact-Information/165/
http://chronicle.com/section/Editorial-Staff/145/
http://www.theblueeconomy.org/blue/Principles.html
http://www.gnhfund.com/docs/letter/BhutanBE-Signatories.pdf
http://www.eur.nl/english/ehero/about/mission/

Comment by Thabo.mosala.wits.ac.za | 07.01.2014

Would like to participate in that forumpl

Comment by Rinze Benedictus (the Netherlands) | 08.01.2014

Science in Transition
POSITION PAPER – October 17, 2013
Why Science Does Not Work
as It Should
And What To Do about It
Huub Dijstelbloem
Scientific Council for Government Policy
University of Amsterdam
Frank Huisman
University Medical Center Utrecht
Descartes Centre, Utrecht University
Frank Miedema
University Medical Center Utrecht
Wijnand Mijnhardt
Descartes Centre, Utrecht University
To the reader: The views in this position paper are the product of lively discussions in four workshops, organized by the initiators of Science in Transition in the spring of 2013. The participants of these workhops are listed on the website. However, the responsibility for this position paper rests solely with the Science in Transition initiators.
Also, this position paper is not an end product, but a starting point for debate. This is the second version and after the November conference a revision will follow.
Translation: Han van der Vegt.
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Introduction ........................................................................................................................................................... 3
Images of Science .................................................................................................................................................. 5
Trust ..................................................................................................................................................................... 11
Quality .................................................................................................................................................................. 14
Reliability and corruption .................................................................................................................................. 18
Communication ................................................................................................................................................... 21
Democracy and Policy......................................................................................................................................... 23
University and education .................................................................................................................................... 25
Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................................... 31
Recommended Literature ................................................................................................................................... 32
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Introduction
Science has always influenced man and society, but there can be no doubt that, from the seventeenth century on, this process of mutual influence has gained momentum. Less and less, science appeared to be a individual intellectual quest. New ideas and concepts were coined within complex socio-political and cultural relationships. Moreover, science made its influence felt in a growing number of areas; this did not only concern texts but also nature, and soon, man and society also became object of academic study. National frameworks seemed less and less important. Science seemed without frontiers; at the most, governments and national idiosyncrasies influenced the way scientific developments could penetrate public life. Science was propelled by numerous discoveries, in the universe, at sea, in the workplace, in the laboratory, in society and in the library. These generated a dramatic increase in the quantity of information and brought about a knowledge revolution. The rapid changes had an impact on the university. It had to reinvent itself again and again, in the seventeenth century, around 1800, around 1900 and once more in the ‗70s of the previous century.
The concepts of science and social progress have long been intimately connected. Modern western society seems unimaginable without the benefits of science. Only with the arrival of the atomic bomb and with the environmental problems of the 1960s and ‗70s did the first doubts arise and did we learn that not all science automatically entails progress. Add to this that the organisation, funding and justification of the practice of science have become increasingly problematic, if only because of the enormous expansion that took place over the last few decades. As the central (although not the only) bulwark of science and as an institution of education and research, the university has had to deal with this at a large scale. To us, the ―usefulness‖ of science is never in doubt, but the manner in which we organise it is. This implies questions such as: can we still be satisfied with the proficiency level of the large numbers of graduates we turn out? Is there something wrong with the admittance policy or is education the victim of the pressure to excel and to acquire funding?
And what is the situation in the daily practice of science itself? Has science not landed in hot waters due to issues such as climate gate, ash clouds over Iceland, and in The Netherlands the failed HPV vaccination campgain, the supposed conflict of interests in the advice about the purchase of vaccines against the Mexican flu (New Influenza A) and obviously the recent, much discussed cases of fraud. Do we pay sufficient attention to these problems? Certain aspects (fraud, plagiarism) are evidently wrong, everybody will agree on that. Thorough
4
reports have also been written about these issues. But apart from that, there are many matters we cannot directly call ―white‖ or ―black‖ but that are more or less ―grey‖: things are not exactly wrong but are somehow not entirely right either. If we are willing to look closer, these shades of grey are dominant. Do they, taken together, not indicate an essential metamorphosis of the practice of science? Is it not time to further study these changes and to analyse their consequences?
The issues that we put up for discussion here can hardly be called typically Dutch, even though this paper will focus explicitly on the conditions there. They occur all over the world and by now there is an impressive amount of literature available on the subject.
In this position paper, we will not pretend to give an exhaustive survey of all that literature. Neither will we be able to treat all the problems. On the basis of three paired themes: Image & Trust (images of science and trust in science), Quality & Corruption (Quality, Reliability and Impact) and finally Communication & Democracy (Information, democracy and influence of the public), to each of which a workshop was devoted in the spring, we think that we can deal with the most important issues. This paper will be concluded by an analysis of the problems regarding university and education. We are convinced it is wise to start with such a broad analysis. This will show us how problems have become entangled, which may help us to know better what we are doing once we start working on the introduction of improvements.

Rinze Benedictus (the Netherlands)