What Are Universities For? Stefan Collini

What Are Universities For? Stefan Collini

This is a very broad yet entertaining, and yet again honest read.

Broad in the sense that it gave me an overview of teaching in higher education that made complete sense to me. A potted history of how the state of education in the UK has come to be what it is in the last two decades was explained openly. It gave an insight into reflections on student cohorts, engagement levels and their causes – for example: internationalisation. It broke down the essentials of the Browne report into digestible information for me, and spelled out the impacts on teaching in higher education.

The parts that were entertaining were those that did not hide the areas where you may encounter repetition, bureaucracy and red tape, hoops to jump through in challenging procedures and understanding the ‘useful and useless’ aspects of debates. It read as entertaining to me because I could imagine it well, and understand these challenges will lie ahead of me in teaching – some of which I have already begun to encounter.

I ultimately read this book as honest, because Collini did not set up the pretence to convey that he had all of the answers to the perfect set up of a higher education institution, or a perfect higher education model for a student to experience. Rather he had acknowledged set ups that were in existence and analysed what made them work or work less well than others. The epilogue summarises the writers intent of the whole book with a keen awareness of it’s time references, towards funding and argues other reasons why this should not be the discerning factor which makes universities appear to be a luxury.

What Are Universities For?