Stefan Popenici

with Sharon Kerr in " What Undermines Higher Education"

Academic rigor and engaging academic experiences, dynamic and flexible learning pathways suitable to build educated critical minds able to cope with tremendous challenges ahead, need to be the cornerstones of our universities. Universities able to see this will see the future.

surprisingly popular error in reducing the concept of academic education to the accumulation of resources.

It is almost embarrassing to underline here the simple fact that educators have the role to build educated minds, which are capable to critically analyze, select, synthesize and use information. This involves teaching, feedback, discussions and debates, personal analysis and facilitation, not just a simple access to ubiquitous resources produced by many and available in libraries or on the World Wide Web.

MOOCs invite thousands to enjoy the crowd experience, but this is a deceptive exercise that leaves students to think that they have had access to a quality academic education.

Universities have survived a long time, through wars and economic crises, mainly because the rest of society considered them to be part of a trustworthy institution.

universities – that used to be the source of light, knowledge and hope for humanity – contributed to the creation of a new social class, named the precariat.

a new idea can send a casual academic to unemployment. Challenging a theory, idea or practice translates into professional suicide

Similar to other utopian promises this slide into mistrust and disengagement results in the opposite of what is promised with the system becoming more rigid, bureaucratic, dysfunctional and inefficient than ever before.

Universities that will survive the current turning point in the future of higher education will not turn into diploma mills or assembly lines to deliver content to complacent customers.

Universities have lost in this shift what was in reality the most valuable and efficient part of their existence: knowledge authority, status and influence in intellectual debates and public life. The survival-mechanisms for the continuously increasing class of academic precariat stay in opposition with free and critical thinking. The “bean-counting culture” has been successful in oppressing academic life and replacing the value of academic professionalism with that of bureaucratic formalism and obedience.

Despite these lessons of recent years our universities continue to build on the idea that a university is a commercial enterprise producing and selling commodities on the market.

Putting more youth through college or technological surrogates with no quality assurance is just a self-comforting lie that will end as many other delusions, in tragedy.

Many universities can use the example of Ulysses, tie themselves to the mast and stay rational when the sirens sing their deceiving songs.