A University for the Students?

Is college education a public good or a student-centered model for individual development or both?  Historically, colleges have been tasked with three missions: knowledge development (or research), teaching and training the next workforce.[i]   How the university expends their efforts to achieve these missions can sometimes create competing interests.   Students’ tuition may be used to subsidize research—often considered a public good—while the student does not directly benefit from their investment.   In our experience, many students (and their parents) seek college degrees for career training.  The LiquiGlide project certainly is an example of meeting the students’ needs.  While innovations, like LiquiGlide from the MIT labs, is certainly a public good, how many, if any, students were able to work on the project?  If any students, were they graduate level or undergraduate?

As tuition is increasing and families’ capacity to invest in college may be more restricted, students will be smart to research how the college allocates resources towards student learning, job training and research.  Then, s/he can align themselves with a university and be more assured they’re receiving value for their investment.


[i] Christensen, Clayton M.  and  Michael B. Horn, Colleges in Crisis: Disruptive change comes to American higher education, Harvard Magazine, July-August 2011


Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, is a University of California and Harvard trained educator and Partner at Creative Marbles Consultancy.  She advises families and schools, as they make complex educational choices.  You can contact Jill at or, read her short biography.


 Video from LiquiGlide