Shawn Warren

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Higher education and research can and should be provided under the professional paradigm, not the university-government-union "hybrid."

Operating on around the current tuition and mandatory fee revenue universities receive, the vast majority of programs of study in higher education (HE) can be provided to society under the protection and direction of a formal profession. That is, academics (professors) that are not union-represented, university-government employees, but independent professionals offering their qualified expertise in education and research, subject to good standing in a legislatively approved professional society and social contract. We entrust and INSIST on the professional paradigm where other important services are concerned - medical, legal, engineering, accounting, psychiatry, dentistry... If we insist that we and our children receive these social goods within the professional service model, surely the same is plausible for (higher) education. I am confident that if this is true it will revolutionize HE and leave it with a much healthier custodian. My website explains this idea in greater detail. I implore you as an academic and a citizen, apply your collective intelligence to this proposal - so very much is at stake. Sincerely, Shawn Warren, PhD.

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    Apr 9 2012: Shawn it is a great idea BUT if you take away the power of control over public education from government the congressmen , president etc will whine and cry since they can no longer make the empty promise that they will fix education or as Brown is doing in California using it as a whip to get more taxes with less ROI so that the dems can continue the long history of tax and spend.
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      Apr 9 2012: I appreciate this. Here are some things to think about: 1) And foremost, 70% of the academic labour in America is classified as adjunct: average income around $73,000 (80k male, 67k female). These are all pathetic numbers - especially if the prof. paradigm fits. And useful. The feminist lobby is powerful, pay equity is hot, etc.; 2) Poverty and race are also on the side of this proposal - access increased and price decreased: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2012/03/27/essay-asks-federal-aid-so-college-students-get-paid-study.; 3) There is a solid ethical argument, atmosphere and avenue available (paved and signposted by environmentalists and feminists) to place HE at the forefront of public consciousness (also anti-intellectualism is on the wane, with the tech and information contributions of the "universities" making reassuring headlines every day...); 4) There are already in place a number of adjunct faculty associations/movements that can be, as the world is showing us, be contacted and rallied through social networking. They are beaten and so intoxicated by the idea of a tenure-track position in the university that all they see is "working within the bankrupt system" - collective bargaining, like factory workers. I simply do not understand...but the prospect of a genuine profession might shake them out of this trance and give them a much needed reconstructed self-image; 5) There are the economic arguments that I believe are surprisingly persuasive to both sides of the dominant political coin - Dem and Rep - considerable public money liberated for the liberal agenda (if you wish) and a sector of society converted to typically more conservative preferences (if you wish) for regulation - merit and market; 6) There is the growing concern with the corporatization of the campus. It worries me too - PSA is a way out of this Faustian deal.

      This is just a start...

      I am concerned about this of course, but honestly, I am obliged to pursue this, civilly and profes.
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      Apr 8 2012: Indeed some of the elements of the proposal are derived from the history of European higher education - and elsewhere. Too my knowledge there is no either formal or widely used paradigm like the one I am describing to be found in Europe. If there is, I would very much appreciate your putting me on to it.

      Further, the European HE enterprise is presently and equally suffer under the current university-government-union hybrid paradigm. And I believe could equally benefit from conversion to the professional.

      I should sincerely like to know what you think of the prospect.

      Cheers,
      Shawn
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    Apr 8 2012: Interesting idea. My only thought is that if the government link is broken that the cost of universities to support research might put them out of reach of most students. Already I see professors who do not teach in universities but have TAs do the job while they do research in libraries and write publish or perish papers. Maybe HE needs to rethink the goal of research?
    James Turner J.D.
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      Apr 8 2012: Hello James,

      I worried about this as well, over the course of developing this proposal. Here are my thoughts:

      I agree that government will likely continue to fund (invest in) HE research (and also in education I suppose through student aid). This might even be desirable. The thing is under a professional paradigm the formula for funding is dramatically changed - and so we can no longer think of HE financing a in the way we have become so accustomed (that is, as extremely limited).

      Consider: if I am correct, then around 70% of all programs of study found in universities today could be provided at around the going rate of tuition. This would save billions in government subsidy/funding/investment. i think you see where the line of reasoning goes from here....

      But more than that, James, (and also tied to our near uniform inability to think outside the hybrid framework fro HE) the research products you speak of as possibly being jeopardized by a professional paradigm, are not the product of universities (or the hybrid). They are the product of academics - the labour. In HE the research money follows the reputation and the reputation is utterly a consequence of the academic(s) involved - not the institution. Universities are not identical to the products of HE (education and research), they merely facilitate their production.

      I suggest that the professional paradigm would do a much better job of that, including the research. The professional academics I have in mind would (as is done in law, engineering, medicine...) would organically associate by (inter-disciplinary) subject and research interest to form departments ("firms") and those individuals are the reputation, so the government, industry, society would fund/invest in them...and the rest unfolds as usual.

      Except that these departments are financed by tuition ALONE, along with the FURTHER reputation-revenue from research, investment, sale of goods and services (all sources of university income).
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        Apr 8 2012: Sounds good to me and maybe we could think about HE reducing the departments that are there for political correctness only and restructure education into one that is productive of advances in all areas of hard science, soft science, and thinking. I am not sure!!!!
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          Apr 8 2012: This is an aspect of the concept that excites me the most, its flexibility in terms of finance, pedagogy and curriculum. A more thorough treatment is available on my website: https://sites.google.com/site/professionalsocietyofacademics/home

          I hope you (if you have not already) give it some serious consideration and discussion. Part of the savings under this paradigm comes from the fact that there can be as many professional academics as the market demands (unlike now), with more "natural" forces determining the number, quality, speciality, teaching and evaluation style, etc. (under the direction and protection of a professional society and social contract - accreditation boards are really nothing more than that! Authority by consensus and consensus by authority.)

          In this way standards are maintained, curriculum developed, etc., much as it is now, but with a fraction of the university administration, government bureaucracy and union representation that costs so much and cripples the enterprise's ability to adapt and self-regulate.

          James, money is saved, but it is also made. Western-world HE has been for about 15 years (more recently with intensity) trying to expand into international markets - either import consumers or export the service (Yale in Singapore). This cannot happen (for ethical reasons but also) because HE is heavily subsidized by the public, so non-nationals must pay the (apparent) full price - usually 4 times the domestic tuition.

          If I am correct, then the international market for HE could be broken wide open. If HE is facilitated under this paradigm, at the cost of tuition alone (or even there about, with little or no public subsidy), then we could drop the price of international tuition by as much as 75%!! There are billions of consumers in Asia dying to be educated - and it is our ethical obligation to at least vet this proposal and determine if we can expand global and local access to HE.

          What are your thoughts?

          Sincerely,
          Shawn