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Higher Education - Crisis or Change?

Sociological discussion programme. Laurie Taylor explores the role, meaning and future of a university education in a globalised world.

Higher education - crisis or change? A special programme exploring the role, meaning and future of a university education in a globalised world. It was once assumed that university graduates, particularly those from working class backgrounds, had a route to social mobility via a degree. Sara Goldrick-Rab, Professor of Higher Education Policy and Sociology at Temple University, tells Laurie Taylor why her new study suggests the end of the American dream of self improvement. Half the students, in her sample of 3,000 disadvantaged young adults, dropped out of college due to a lack of financial resources. Lorenza Antonucci, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Teeside University, compared the lives of students in England, Italy and Sweden and found that, contrary to what is assumed by HE policies, participating in university education now exacerbates inequality. Thomas Docherty, Professor of English and of Comparative Literature at the University of Warwick, joins the discussion, placing these developments in the context of an increasing marketisation of education which, he argues, has turned the university into the servant of the economy.

Producer: Jayne Egerton.

Available now

28 minutes


Sara Goldrick-Rab at Temple University, Philadelphia 

Thomas Docherty at the University of Warwick

Lorenza Antonucci at Teesside University


Sara Goldrick-Rab, Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream, (University of Chicago Press, 2016)

Thomas Docherty, Universities at War, (Sage, 2014)

Lorenza Antonucci, Student Lives in Crisis: Deepening inequality in times of austerity, (Policy Press, 2016)


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