Hypercompetition Is Harming Higher Ed — from chronicle.com by Julie A. Reuben
Colleges should ease off the branding and remember their shared values.


Competition has long been viewed as a key to the greatness of the American college. But developments over the last half century have knocked the balance between competition and cooperation out of whack. These changes include rising tuition; the use of merit aid and other discounts to drive enrollment; the increased importance of rankings; soaring student debt; a surge in revenue-seeking activities, such as patenting and corporate partnerships; increases in revenue-containment strategies, such as the use of contingent faculty; and uneven or declining support at the state and federal levels. Researchers have used terms such “privatization,” “market-oriented,” or “neoliberal” to characterize this larger transformation. The pursuit of institutional advantage at the expense of the health of the larger sector is both a consequence and a driver of these changes.

The excessive competition may be bringing the whole system down. As that happens, even the institutions with the strongest brands will suffer.

Leaders are more interested in defining the distinctive qualities of their institutions than in debating what higher education writ large should be.

From DSC:
I like what Julie’s saying, and I agree with much of it. That said, I’m very skeptical that we can achieve this. From the earliest ages, we introduce a great deal of competition to our youth. How fast can you run the 50 or 100 yard dash? What violin chair are you in the school orchestra? What’s your GPA? Where are you on the Bell Curve?

Capitalism — our basic economic system here in the U.S. — further compounds these dynamics.

We focus more on ourselves as individuals than we focus on our communities.

So while I hope we can achieve what Julie’s saying, I’m not optimistic here.

Somewhat related items:

Along the lines of competition, the following item was added on 7/16/22: