The Rise of Privatization in Tertiary Education, and Its Implications for Teaching and Research in Universities

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 9:02 AM
Room: Booth 44
Oral Presentation
Adam GAMORAN , William T. Grant Foundation, New York, NY

Increasing privatization in tertiary education is a world-wide phenomenon.  In many countries around the world, developed and developing, this takes the form of an expanding private university sector.  In the U.S., expanded privatization occurs in the form of sub-baccalaureate for-profit institutions, on-line degree-granting institutions, and the privatization of many functions in public institutions.  What do these changes mean for the future of teaching and research in universities?  This paper identifies distinctive forms of privatization and discusses the implications of each.  An expanded private sector is likely to increase inequality of access to prestigious universities but does not threaten their standing.  Moreover, the net effect of privatization on access depends not only on whether families are able to meet tuition demands, but also on whether privatization leads to a general expansion of the tertiary sector, which could increase access overall.  Privatization in the form of on-line institutions and for-profit sub-baccalaureate institutions may challenge the ability of universities to maintain their place, but quality distinctions are likely to override the challenges.  Privatization within public institutions constitutes a more insidious challenge and may shift the balance of resources within universities so as to threaten their ability to provide a well-rounded liberal education.