The Great Mistake

The Great Mistake Book Cover The Great Mistake
Christopher Newfield
John Hopkins University Press

Public universities in the United States have been “wrecked” and higher education is in crisis, yet things can still be saved and turned around, believes the author in this book that aims to inspire debate and generate a thirst for change.
The author digs deep into the perceived problem and believes that the current way of thinking that universities should be ran like businesses is just plain wrong. Public funding is essential and the over-reliance of the private sector does not improve efficiency, reduce costs or increase the value to society, it is claimed. If things are not promptly changed, it is contended, there is also a risk of greater economic inequality and even the “fall” of the middle class and the impact of this is more than just some class-warrior soundbite claims.
Students today are said to be paying more and receiving less and the country is being weakened as a result. This may have longer-term adverse benefits and whilst changes can still be made, the longer things are left the greater the potential damage and increased difficulty in backing out of things.
You don’t have to have a special insight or connection into the education system to be alarmed by this book, since it is more than capable of impacting on you, your family or your company on many levels; even if you are not American! It can also be an interesting read for the generalist reader although, to be fair, its price may make it less of a speculative purchase. As a foreign reader, it was a fair bit of an eye-opener and made one appreciative of what we have as a societal norm here. If one was American, with children who may go to university, it could be a depressing and alarming read.
At the end of the book is a massive reference section, so the reader or detractor can dig really deep into the author’s research and head back towards the source. If you have any professional connection to higher education sector, especially in the United States, this can be essential, informative reading. For everybody else, it may be specialist in nature and rather general in appeal, yet worthy of a read nonetheless.