Unrest in the Ivory Tower: Privatization of the University

Knowledge is different from capital, and from material goods, in that there is no inherent scarcity to knowledge. A piece of knowledge, once produced, may be replicated almost for free, distributed around the world in the blink of an electron, fed almost as easily to one person as to one billion people. Oh sure, there are some pragmatic issues: knowledge can be expensive to create, and as those of us involved in distance and online learning will attest, distribution is not free. However for the greater good, people in a society – and across societies, in a global society – pool their resources, funding public universities for the production of knowledge, and a public education system for the distribution of knowledge. —Stephen Downes
Unrest in the Ivory Tower: Privatization of the University (USDLA Journal)

A good article from 2001, which argues that the more loudly traditionalists argue for preserving the quirkiness (and inefficiency) of university culture — particularly in the humanities — against the streamlined marketing philosophy of the marketplace, the sooner the marketplace will win.

It turns out, in the wider world, that people do not want to spend their time and money (a) meeting someone else’s needs, (b) paying for work that doesn’t need to be done, (c) not knowing the results, (d) not knowing what is being produced, and (e) more than they can afford. If this is the picture of academia that the traditionalists are defending, then it is doomed, and if by falling it must fall into corporate hands, then their own logic has as its inevitable consequence the privatization of education.