Is University Education General Education or Elite Education? Paper Example

Published: 2022-12-23
Is University Education General Education or Elite Education? Paper Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  University Education Analysis Social issue
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1653 words
14 min read

Knowledge, academic and technical skills are essential for one to be successful in life. University education plays a significant role in obtaining these skills. Presently, the number of people being enrolled in the university has increased with the rising call that every person should attain university education unlike in the past where only small groups of people went to the university particularly students from wealthy families. In the twentieth century, to respond to the increased university enrollment rates, the global education system shifted from elite education to a general education framework. Elite education prepared a small group of individuals from the ruling classes to assume specific duties concerning academic courses such as law, medicine, and theology.

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On the other hand, general education allowed a vast spectrum of students to acquire technical and social knowledge to prepare them for professional lives. Notably, almost all European nations have successfully reduced the social gap in the acquisition of tertiary education. Today, universities offer both elite and universal training in a bid to enhance general education that allows participation of all people in tertiary education despite their social status. However, existing literature reveal that the authors reveals that despite most universities allowing for social diversity, most of their courses are homogenous to allow the creation of specific elite classes in society, but to a broad population. Despite some institution's inflexibility to curriculum changes, currently, university institutions offer standardized curriculums, allows social inclusivity, emphasizes on acquisition of common knowledge, and cultural quality alongside traditional learned professions such as law and medicine; therefore, one can affirm universities to be a form of general education as opposed to an elite system.

Englund, Tomas. "The General School System as a Universal or a Particular Institution and Its Role in the Formation of Social Capital." Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research. In the eighteenth century, only specific affluent individuals went to institutions of higher learning, which were privately funded. The institutions only accepted the elite to allow them to conform to different standards associated with social power. However, as Englund states, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw a massive transition to institutions that emphasized on the creation of social capital. In this case, the author reveals how the relationship between individuals of different social classes allows diversity and. He utilizes an example of Sweden's general education system that does not allow segregation based on color, race, or economic status.

Additionally, the author reveals that modern Swedish society is inclined towards creating a meeting place for all persons to reap the benefits of education. In light of the above propositions, it is evident that a university education, which accommodates all qualified persons from various communities without discrimination is a form of general education. Additionally, the article shows that the public education system is substantially characterized by increased social capital. In this case, alongside the acquisition of knowledge, universities serve as a socialization pace, where individuals meet their future workmates, business partners, and spouses, which is a form of social capital.

Boli, John et al. "Explaining the origins and expansion of mass education." Comparative education review.

University education is a form of general education since it is universal, rationalized, and standardized. According to Boli et al., mass education is usually regulated, streamlined, and universal in such a way that it engages everyone. In this case, people can view higher education in most countries as comprehensive since it cuts across ethnic, tribal, and economic barriers of differentiation. For example, unlike in the past where elite philosophical schools only acknowledged males, today, everyone has an equal opportunity to enroll in any private or public institution of higher learning to study. Moreover, the author reveals that parents in the elite education system sent their children to specific schools to acquire crtain skills.

Secondly, one can consider university education as general education since it affects students with globally accepted educational standards and values (Boli et al. 150). General knowledge is homogenous throughout the world since people who have acquired university degrees are capable of engaging their careers in any country. The above phenomenon is created by the fact that university programs equip learners with the same knowledge concerning a specific profession. For example, someone who studied nursing in the United Kingdom can practice medicine in Africa or the United States.

Underdal, Arild. Implications of the Change from Elite to Mass or Multi-purpose institutions, Portland Press Limited, 2010, Holborn, London.

The article explains that the increased number of enrollment in tertiary education across the world accounts for the transformation from elite system to mass education, which is evident in tertiary education. .According to Underdal, higher education can be classified as general education since it involves the transfer of skills concerning a wide range of professional and technical role to a large population of cohorts in line with the author's definition of mass education (45). In contrast, he defines elite education as the preparation of a small group of individuals for specific and professional roles, which involves being a member of a particular elite class (Underdal 42). Today, admission to universities is based on a person's academic performance as opposed to belonging to a unique social class.

Secondly, most universities receive supplementary budgets from the government to support the increased demand for higher education. In a general system, higher education is the right of every qualified citizen; therefore, the number of students in schools increases (Underdal 47). The situations aim at preventing a fallback to the elite system where only the middle and upper-class students accessed education. On the other hand, the author shows that universities may evolve into a co-evolution of elite and general systems if the social gap increases.

Trow, Martin. "Problems in the Transition from Elite to Mass Higher Education." (1973). Accessed on 11 April, can be classified as part of general education since they train a wide range of cohorts to manage all economic and technical organizations in society. Contrary, the article reveals that elite educational programs are about shaping the character and mind of the ruling class to ready students for elite duties in government and responsibilities in learned professions, such as law, medicine, and theology (Trow 5). In this case, universities are not primarily tasked with shaping individuals characters as it is in the fact of the elite system; instead, they equip students with unique for specific roles in conducting elite duties in society.

Additionally, Trow emphasizes that in mass education, those institutions responsible for preparing a significant number of cohorts for survival in modern advanced societies train elites from the entire population (12). Additionally, the general education system helps individuals to adapt to societies whose primary characteristics are rapid technological and social change. Notably, modern university education utilizes states of the arts modern technology to facilitate innovation and creativity. Therefore, just as Trow explains, tertiary education or mass education enables people to adapt to changing technological dynamics in the world (22).

Hachtmann, Frauke. "The Process of General Education Reform from a Faculty Perspective: A Grounded Theory Approach." JGE: Journal of General Education.

According to Hachtmann (17), university education can be classified as general education that prepares people for specific roles in society. The author reveals that the model is standard in most European universities as opposed to the United States. In the US, more than eighty-five per cent of universities and colleges utilize general education, which aims at focusing on the societal needs of inclusivity and equality (Hachtmann 20). Moreover, the article shows that universities specialize in equipping knowledge for limited careers mostly in medicine, science, and law alongside other common courses such as foreign languages, logic, philosophy, and classical literary works.

Furthermore, universities not only educate students to improve their critical thinking and prepare them for the professional world but also enable them to solve critical technical specialties that require intense research. The author shows that graduates from universities have more probability of succeeding because of the increased demand for expertise in specialized fields (Hachtmann 15). On the other hand, the author shows how most institutions that had implemented a general education curriculum are trying to change into a more competent one that will enable students to be self-starters. In this case, they will be innovative enough to start their own business, as in the case of elite students.

William G. Wraga. "The Progressive Vision of General Education and the American Common School Ideal: Implications for Curriculum Policy, Practice, and Theory." Journal of Curriculum Studies.

William's article provides an excellent distinction between general education and elite education, which allows one to classify universities as part of elite systems (524). The author claims that the general order that focusses on common education and cultural literacy emerged in the mid-twentieth century in response to the rising call for equality and inclusion in the country. As a result, most American colleges and universities adopted a curriculum for general studies that emphasized social sciences. Progressive educators in the nation believed that for people to participate in public activities, they must equip themselves with common knowledge.

The author shows that university education is concerned with the development of school curriculums that adapt to advances in learned professions. In the mid-centuries, Americans changed the elite university system into a general order to allow inclusion of students from the minorities. Today, universities admit individuals based on intellectual capacity and grades to enable them to lead a specific lifestyle in the future (William 530). The phenomenon is similar to that of colleges that allows access to tertiary education to all students who graduated from high school.

Ma, Ying. "Liberal Arts (General) Education in Chinese Universities: Concepts and Practices." Chinese Education & Society.

Ma's article reveals university education in China before the nineteenth century was based on elite system (3). However, influences from western culture's debated curriculum influenced the shift to general education. The authors reveal that mass education encompassed o providing equal opportunity to all factions of the society to enable them to participate in the growing economy.

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