Summary by James R. Martin, Ph.D., CMA
Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida
What is The Purpose of Higher Education?
According to Eastman, American institutions of higher education were created to educate young people to be able to "know the truth", to study "the best that has been thought and said in the world." The basic liberal arts subjects included language, math, history, and religion, or "education for a lifetime" as Eastman explained. Gradually, curriculums broadened to include preparation for specific professions such as engineering, law, medicine, and the ministry, in addition to the liberal arts core. Eventually even business subjects were taught that most scholars viewed as technical school subjects until fairly recently. According to Eastman, higher education in America is now separated into two types including those where the search for truth, educated intellect and imagination is primary, and those where preparation for a particular career is primary.
Some thoughts: A question that needs to be considered is whether the commercial type of higher education has become too commercial and competitive? Is the main focus of higher education, education, or has education become secondary as colleges and universities compete for students and resources?
A related question for business schools is what should be the mix between scientific research and practice? Should the faculty who teach business classes have business experience? According to Bennis and O'Toole (2005) business schools have lost their way by failing to recognize that business is a profession, not an academic discipline like physics and economics. As a result business schools have embraced the scientific model rather than the more appropriate professional model of medicine and law. Many tenured business professors have never been inside a real business, except as customers.
C. J. McNair and Bryant Richards are also critical of higher education. They argue that the shortage of accounting Ph.D.s is mainly caused by what they refer to as "the death of the teacher scholar" (See below).
Bennis, W. G. and J. O'Toole. 2005. How business schools lost their way: Too focused on "scientific" research, business schools are hiring professors with limited real-world experience and graduating students who are ill equipped to wrangle with complex, unquantifiable issues - in other words, the stuff of management.". Harvard Business Review (May): 96-104. (Summary).
Beyer, B., D. Herrmann, G. K. Meek and E. T. Rapley. 2010. What it means to be an accounting professor: A concise career guide for doctoral students in accounting. Issues in Accounting Education (May): 227-244. (Summary).
Johnson, H. T. 1989. Professors, customers, and value: bringing a global perspective to management accounting education. Proceedings of the Third Annual Management Accounting Symposium. Sarasota: American Accounting Association: 7-20. (Summary).
Kamenetz, A. 2009. Who needs Harvard? Free online courses, Wiki universities, Facebook-style tutoring networks - American higher education is being transformed by a cadre of web-savvy edupunks. Fast Company (September): 84-89. (Summary).
McNair, C. J. and B. Richards. 2008. Unintended consequences: Death of the teacher-scholar. Cost Management (January/February): 21-28. (Summary).
Reckers, P. M. J. 2006. Perspectives on the proposal for a generally accepted accounting curriculum: A wake-up call for academics. Issues in Accounting Education (February): 31-43. (Note).
Martin, J. R. Not dated. 200 years of accounting history dates and events. Management And Accounting Web. http://maaw.info/AccountingHistoryDatesAndEvents.htm
Martin, J. R. Not dated. The accounting doctoral shortage and opportunities to teach accounting. Management And Accounting Web. http://maaw.info/ArticleSummaries/ArtSumAccountingDoctoralShortage.htm
Martin, J. R. 2016. AACSB International 2013 and 2016. 2012-2013 and 2015-2016 Salary Survey Reports: Executive Summary. AACSB. Management And Accounting Web. http://maaw.info/ArticleSummaries/ArtSumAACSB2013SalaryReports.htm
The Pathways Commission. 2012. The Pathways Commission on Higher Education: Charting a National Strategy for the Next Generation of Accountants. American Accounting Association and American Institute of CPAs. (Note).