Cape Breton University President Looks Toward Super University

David Wheeler, markusmind, Jun 17, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Presentation slides and press release about a talk by Cape Breton University president David Wheeler. He argues that " future universities will be rewarded by governments for their performance in economic development, employability of graduates, immigration and commercialisation of research in addition to more traditional metrics which may have less to do with scientific, social and cultural excellence or economic prosperity." One slide points out that universities have survived since the 16th century "because societies need them."

It is worth asking at this juncture exactly what it is that societies need. The citizens of Leiden famously opted for a university as a reward from William of Orange instead of the economic advantage of tax-free status. The citizens of Tubingen famously rejected industrial development in favour of remaining a university city. The need is to develop a university as a university, not an engine to support day-to-day economic development. If we want job creation or economic development we have the private sector to do that; if they won't (and in Canada, increasingly, they won't) we need other measures to address that; converting universities into something they're not is not the answer.

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