The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Corporations Weigh on Education

Apr 28, 2014

Throughout the country, more and more of what students learn at universities and community colleges is being designed directly by corporations to meet their short-term needs.

Northrop Grumman gave the University of Maryland money for a new cybersecurity program. IBM partnered with Ohio State for a program in data analytics. Many community colleges are polling local businesses to see what kinds of training they want students to get, and then expanding those programs at the expense of traditional fields like science and history.

At first glance, this seems like it might help students be prepared for the jobs that actually exist. Corporations give universities money, and in return, universities train students to go straight into corporate jobs. But of course, the amount of money the corporations give never comes close to the full cost of training students, so taxpayers and students’ own loans subsidize the corporations’ need for training. And having a very specific skill might be great in the short term, but as the field changes, these students will be much less prepared with the general skills they need to learn and adapt. Does anyone expect cybersecurity to work the same way ten years from now as it works today?

Young people need real educations, that teach them how to engage with different ideas, and that give them a deep understanding of the skills they will need for a given career. Corporations aren’t interested in that – they want the public to pay for training to meet their needs right now. The corporate takeover of the university is one more attack on young people.