By James E. Coté and Anton Allahar
Among the books reviewed at this year’s Open Book Session as part of the annual conference of the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services were several that painted a rather grim picture of North American higher education. Academically Adrift – making waves in both the U.S. and Canada – has been described as a “damning indictment.” DIY U argues that the crisis in American higher ed will lead young people to use the ample resources of the web to fill in the gaps left by institutions that simply can’t deliver the experience students expect.
Lowering Higher Education provides the Canadian variation on this ubiquitous theme of declining quality. Authors Coté and Allahar, professors at the University of Western Ontario, gained some notoriety a few years back with their critique of the university system: Ivory Tower Blues. (See CACUSS Reads review.) Though they had a strong thesis based on both data and teaching experience with their original work, it stank of cynicism. In Lowering Higher Education, they have not only strengthened their arguments, but they come across as far more concerned than caustic, constructive than cranky. Continue reading