Speculative Diction: The Value of a Degree [December, 2010]

These two blog posts address the topic of how we understand the “value” of degrees. I started thinking about this not just because of the ongoing commentary in the media on this issue, but also because a friend asked me about whether I think “too many people” have degrees, and I think that question gets to the heart of a debate that has significant policy implications. In these posts I reflect on what we mean by “value” and how the different underlying assumptions about this idea have consequences for the imagined purpose of all education (not just PSE).

Part 1: Relative value.

Part 2: Inherent value.

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Speculative Diction: The Proof of the Pudding [September 21 2010]

In this blog post I discuss how the focus on measurable outcomes from higher education, and on quantitative measures of comparison such as international rankings. How are these linked to a culture of risk and accountability, considering that students paying higher premiums for education are now seeking a return on their “investment”? What happens when they don’t get the outcomes they paid for – and why is it that we can never market higher education as a “product” that is the same for everyone?