You are invited to explore alternative higher education models. The professional and co-operative models I have developed treat academics as entrepreneurs, not institutional employees. These alternatives are original and do not rely on the increased use of technology, public funding or venture capitalism; while they offer the possibility of sustainable, high quality, affordable, accessible, and equitable academic service. Consider the Professional Model: http://bit.ly/1iWdCEU
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The Right to Earn a Living in a System with Free Higher Education: Part 1*
There are two human rights related here in argument,
one enumerated the other not.The first
is the much debated unenumerated right to earn a living.The other is the less publicized but recognized
right to free higher education.
The current system violates both without excuse. These violations prevent academics from
earning a living in a higher education system free of tuition or public expense.
Violation of the Right to Earn a Living
As a derivative of complex labour
and social contract negotiations society has arranged it so individuals who meet
professional education and membership requirements are free to exercise the
right to earn a living in their chosen career.
physicians, pharmacists, and engineers can jointly or severally found independent
practices (or service businesses, if you like) offering critical expertise to
the public for a fee.
This does not describe
academics. The matter is subtle but
academics cannot earn a living outside of an institution such as a university
or college that possesses the legal authority to confer recognized credentials. This restriction directly contradicts a basic
maxim of rights theory: In any given society, the more individuals that can
exercise their rights the better.
While not identical to the prohibition
against the practice of medicine or law outside of professional authority this academic
restriction is likewise secured by law as a consequence of complex social
negotiation contemporaneous with that of the professions, grounded in its own education
and membership requirements and having parity of effect.
Academics who meet education
and union membership requirements can earn a living in higher education – as employees
of an institution, not independent practitioners. Of course unlike the professions, under the
triad it is not illegal for a PhD in philosophy to call himself an academic, hang
a shingle outside the walls of an accredited institution and contribute to the
higher education enterprise by offering expertise to the public for a fee.
It is just illegal to do so
for the one thing of any market value in the enterprise - credit – itself a purely
logical construct like professional licensure.
In fact, even if its services
were of much higher quality and far less expensive than the triad an academic practice
in engineering or psychology could not survive without accreditation. And were the practice expanded with a full
complement of exceptional educators in other programs it would be against the
law for them to refer to themselves as a university or claim to offer degrees
without an act of legislation to back them.
So protected is the currency
of credit, minted by those with authority to accredit.
But the matter is not
settled. The employment capacity of the
triad is insufficient and the value of their labour dependent on accreditation
granted to institutions, leaving academicswithout the ability to exercise the same right to earn a living that
similarly placed professional labour routinely enjoys as a derivative of their
complex investment in career and community.
This is a verycurious circumstance when one acknowledges
the critical role of academic qualification and reputation in securing market
valued accreditation for institutional employers, not to mention the revenue
from research and endowment. Despite the
fact that academics are the only essential labour in the enterprise they do not
collectively or individually secure accreditation.
Under the triad this would be
a misapplication of the tool, with institutions, not individuals,
as formal candidates for what is essentially the licence to practice higher
As such accreditation is a
bit like the peculiar credit a diehard sports fan lavishes on a favourite team
even though its complement of athletes and coaching staff regularly moves on to
competing franchises. In terms of
universities and colleges this occurs with high frequency and low pay because
unlike athletes, the majority of academics are not employed full time and do
not yet appreciate the value of their labour, defined as it is by institutions,
governments and unions.
To be clear this legal
feature of the triad does not prevent opening an independent academic practice,
only earning a living from it. Be it institution
or individual, advantage in the higher education market clearly goes to those
competitive sports higher education does not require teams with rotating rosters,
at least not of the curious sort these triad institutions represent. The
professional alternative eliminates the apparent necessity for institutions and
places accreditation authority in the hands of the members of an academic profession,
as the licence to practice is found in the medical and legal professions.
The triad and professional paradigms
for defining the key labour of higher education are workable. But because the professional is viable and
superior in terms of its ability to comply with the basic maxim that the more individuals
who can exercise their rights the better, continued use of the triad,
including its universities and colleges, is in violation of the right to earn a
As far as rights go this is
one of the more interesting.
It seems to capture a basic
human need where ‘living’ is construed as some form of subsistence and ‘earn’
is understood as socially acceptable or lawful (used without prejudice). After all, we are social creatures that must
eat and be sheltered. At the same time,
even though its formal recognition dates as far as back the Magna Carta, the right
remains a point of considerable debate. Complying
with ethical maxims is messy business.
The trouble is the sort of
activity it protects and that it engages the interface among natural,
political, legal and moral aspects of social construction. Both the positive and negative
interpretations of the right must contend with the fact that earning a living requires
securing for one individual portion of a finite resource that is not then
available to other individuals in their personal pursuit of a living. And the negative, non-interference version of
the right does not resolve this inherent conflict between the basic maxim and finite
As a necessary consequence there
will be restriction of this basic human right that favour one individual or
group of individuals over another, determined by social formulation. In the current context the restriction is a
result of the pronounced and protracted lack of resources available for faculty
positions in the universities and colleges of the triad.
The only remainder is
whether this formulation is a violation with no excuse.
One very reasonable defence
of the restriction is that there is no choice.
The circumstance is unavoidable since (currently) there is no actual or
conceivable alternative service paradigm.
In this case the right of individuals
to earn a living as academics independent of the triad is denied but there is
no violation of right, only lament for an unfortunate circumstance made necessary
by the lack of alternative.
Even where the professional
service paradigm is not an actual but possible alternative for academic and
enterprise, there might still be reason to insist on the triad: 1) It is more
economical. 2) Its universities and
colleges ensure a higher quality service.
3) It is the better steward for higher education.
Among its advantages over the
triad this alternative is far less expensive, with better quality service and
more suitable stewardship. All things
being equal – including the ability to confer recognized credentials - state and
individual interestsare better
served by the professional service paradigm.
acknowledged that the paradigm has its disadvantages. However, were these even unavoidable,
its use in higher education would be on balance preferred since in this instance it better
comports with the basic maxim by allowing many more academics to exercise their
right to earn a living, no longer constrained by institutions with narrow,
exploitive employment opportunities and a monopoly on accreditation.
2 of this post builds in the conclusion from Part 1, combining it with other work
to make a case against the triad for violation of the right to free higher
education. Also with relevant distinctions and for good
reason perhaps with more persuasion, the same reasoning can be used with the alternative cooperative service paradigm.
It presents the professional alternative as a bid for the higher education social contract, which has been recently and unofficially forced opened by crises across the triad, such as: 1) The purchase of accreditation through private "revitalization investment" in a growing number of struggling or near defunct institutions; 2) The meteoric rise of private and public ventures into Massive Open Online Courses; 3) The continued reduction in public support for everything from higher education finance to its philosophy...
This tender is part of a larger reform effort wherein the service, governance, finance and representation features of the professions are combined with those of the co-operative model in use since the early 19th century. This professional/co-operative model c…
With social media craze and higher
education crisis as parents, the hashtags #alt-ac, #post-ac,
refer to people classified by their work, education, and attitude toward the academy,
who opt or aim for careers across the public and private, employee and entrepreneur
work spaces within and without higher education, and who by some lights are laying
foundation for a new academy. Until recently I was unaware that I might
be classified as an “acer” – as in “hacker.”
Like many others I do not fit nicely under
any one of the three hashtags, though best fit is a reluctant post-ac.For a decade I worked as an adjunct until
five years ago when romantic and labour market forces left me without even this
tenuous access to faculty work.
This is naked thinking on systemic higher education reform aimed at moving higher education from the capitalist to the social economy. It discusses use of the existing co-operative
service/business model as a plausible global strategic response to the crisis
in higher education, with some notes on integrating elements of the
professional service/business model.