Are Universities Too Close With The Tech Companies Who Donate?

from the conflict-of-interest? dept

An interesting look at the large tech companies who donate money, equipment and software to universities, and whether or not it unfairly biases university curricula in their favor. At the heart of this matter, of course, is Microsoft, who has donated a ton of money to colleges and universities. The universities defend the relationships, saying, basically, that the money is needed – and the companies doing the donating tend to be the technologies that people need to know in order to get jobs after they graduate. In the end, that seems to be the core issue. If the point of the education is to help students get jobs after they graduate, and learning this technology can help them do that, then there isn’t a huge problem. If the point, though, is to learn the basic skills across a broad range of technologies, so that they can take that education and go in different directions with it, then the deals may be problematic. Figuring out the right balance is important.

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Comments on “Are Universities Too Close With The Tech Companies Who Donate?”

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Mark says:


I find the “necessary skills” argument to be, in a word, ridiculous. There may be people out there who land jobs because they know how to use Office apps, but those are marginal hires — the people at the very bottom of the pecking order. I assume today’s college students are shooting a little higher than that. I’ve interviewed several people for jobs where computer proficiency was important, but never have we discussed computer skills, because simple ability to use software is something you can pick up in a couple days. The real skills we were looking for were in other areas — intelligence, ability to communicate effectively, ability to be creative and self-directed; none of these had anything to do with knowledge of Word’s menus. The notion that you need to spend your college years using Windows apps in order to compete in today’s market is self-serving drivel that originates in Redmond.

aNonMooseCowherd says:

the purpose of universities

Where did the idea come from that universities are supposed to be vocational schools? Going to a university to learn ephemeral skills is a waste of everyone’s time. The faculty has better things to teach, and people who need to learn these things can find better places to learn them than at a university.

Learning how to think logically is an asset that will last a lifetime. Learning all the latest frobs of Microsoft Office Whatever will be useless in a couple of years, because everything will have changed.

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