Why attend relatively expensive courses when excellent free on line courses (MOOCS – massive open on line courses) exist? Many offered by elite universities. Whether they deserve elite status is another question; if they take in high academic achievers and turn out high academic achievers what value do they add? Access to networks and connections. What else?


So what can universities, apart from those designated elite, located at a specific time and place, offer? Why attend?


Partly it’s a matter of taste and herd instinct; people like to do things in groups and all universities are local to local populations. But it’s also a matter of value for money. MOOCS offer on line seminars and forums. Some offer study weekends. They offer qualifications and degrees. Private universities, corporate universities and consultancy companies have the degree awarding powers that were formerly the property of designated universities; and they are relatively cheap for governments obsessed with balanced budgets; so privatization of universities will continue.


Are locality, occasional study trips, new buildings and so on, sufficient? It’s a question that second division universities have not even begun to consider. The current trends are to become more and more managerial; more and more inflexible, embedding programmes in dilatory processes; more and more, especially in business courses, fixed to absurd subject boundaries and syllabuses dictated by quality assurance and accreditation agencies that inhibit differentiation and protect the monopoly power of the elite by forcing  the non-elite to follow their lead.


MBA courses in the UK (and I suspect Europe) follow elite courses in the USA and the non-elite in the UK follow the elite in the UK; each a poor shadow of the other.


The answers?


I confine them to business courses, are the opposite of current trends; flexibility; more interdisciplinary; more orientated and led by the specific business problems facing executives; occupying a place somewhere towards the middle on the spectrum of the academic and the consultant; relying on the MOOCS (to which they might contribute) for standard subject matter.


A note. 

The response of every failing business I have come across, when offered a different way of looking at things is; we are doing this already.


And creativity?

Can it be taught? Probably not. But it can be encouraged and the opposites above are ways of doing so. A big part of creativity, in business or elsewhere is the ability to entertain in the mind mutually concepts simultaneously.


As with a koan.


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