(D)riven by neoliberalism: Exploring alternative purposes for higher education
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The value of a degree. Social mobility. Job placement rates. Return on investment. These concepts permeate both the news media and academic discourse about higher education credentials. From provosts to presidents, students hear the message that getting a degree means getting a good job. In this editorial, we suggest that the dominant, narrow framing of higher education eclipses diverse understandings of educational purpose and forecloses the many rich possibilities that higher education offers. We do not wish to suggest that economic orientations to higher education are unimportant, but rather we aim to illuminate different conceptualizations. In the current moment in which higher education institutions are scrambling to maintain their position against a global pandemic, we call on those within the university to examine the logics that underpin their work. Drawing on critical and decolonial theories, we suggest ways to think differently about the purpose of higher education.