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Views on Higher Education’s Ultimate Cause Research Paper

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Updated: May 16th, 2022


In his book, The Idea of a University (1899), John Henry Newman writes “If then a practical end must be assigned to a University Course, I say it is that of training good members of society” (Newman, Pg.160). Newman’s belief of universities as institutions of imparting universal knowledge is evident in this excerpt, he also argued against the effects of markets on the design of the curriculum. Newman’s anti-utilitarian position in supporting university learning provides a philosophical basis and a separation point for the analysis of university education. University education is considered core to keeping alive the relationship between market values and those relating to civil society that cannot be viewed in a commercial perspective but are critical to complete democracy.


The objective of the paper is to examine how different authors view higher education’s ultimate cause of offering education to members of society. For this study, we shall look at the works of John Henry Newman (The Idea of a University), Clark Kerr (The Uses of a University), and George Fallis (Multiversities, Ideas, and Democracy).


Clark Kerr writes in his book The Uses of the University, “About eighty-five institutions in the Western world established by 1520 still exist in recognizable forms, with similar functions and unbroken histories… these seventy universities, however, are still in the same locations with some of the same buildings, with professors and students doing much the same things, and with governance carried on in much the same ways” (Kerr, pg. 115). The university system was established three decades after World War 2 as an answer to deep alterations in our society; the increasing importance of ideas and extensive studies in economic and social growth. The education type was a response to the ever-escalating function of government and the democratization of many communities. The mission of all universities is to offer liberal education to undergraduates, undertake research activities, and give back to their university and the community. Pivotal to defending higher education as a public possession and an institution of offering important education is the identification that education must be differentiated from training. This implies that educators avoid commercial considerations from influencing the reason and mission of university education.

Another writer, George Fallis, furthers the higher education debate in his book Multiversities, Ideas, and Democracy (1947). He writes that “…the university must be conceptualized not just as a place of teaching and research, but also a fundamental institution of our democracy” (Fallis, pg. 3). Fallis argues that the university has four main duties in enforcing democracy in the society: to provide entrance to undergraduate, professional, and graduate teaching; to train the students for citizenship; to train the professionals to be conscious of public ethics, and to create information and ideas that promote society and equality. By imparting ethical conduct on the graduates, the university helps society in achieving its eventual target: the success of its citizens and societies. Fallis further asserts that democratic duties make up part of the social contract of higher education. The unwritten contract between the institutions and the government (or the mainstream population) specifies the role of universities in contributing to the social and economic well-being of a nation. In return, the government supports these institutions financially and also permits them to be run independently (Fallis, pg. 111-115).


The three writers demonstrate the importance of higher education in shaping up the members of society. Universities not only impart information to the learners, but they also train them on ethical conduct and thus contribute positively to the prosperity of the society.

Works Cited

  1. Fallis, George. Multiversities, Ideas and Democracy. 1947. University of Toronto Press Incorporated, Canada. 2007. Print.
  2. Kerr, Clark. The Uses of a University. 1963. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, London, England. 2001. Print.
  3. Newman, John Henry. The Idea of a University. 1899. Yale University Press. 1996. Print.
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