Higher education and the public good: precarious potential?
Concerns about, and critiques of neo liberal policy regimes in higher education have heightened the search for alternative normative and organisational models, many of which have coalesced around the necessity to re imagine and defend the public missions of higher education. This has given the notion of the public good greater resonance as an alternative or supplementary frame of reference in debates on higher education and social change. This article identifies some frequently raised issues in the analytical literature on the public good in order to indicate the range of conceptual and operational challenges at stake. It is argued that the ideological constraints and practical difficulties in moving towards a public good regime make the potential and prospects of the notion uncertain and almost precarious in constituting a new foundational basis for considering the social value of higher education. Nevertheless, resisting or mediating public ‘bads’ and increasing or joining up a variety of public good interventions remain as necessary and valuable tasks in the face of contending social purposes of higher education