Book Reviews

Book by Frank Newman, Lara Couturier and Jamie Scurry
Review by Jenni Stacy-Adams
Academic Advising Center
University of Iowa


How do external forces influence higher education today?  This book, written by staff at the Futures Project: Policy for Higher Education in a Changing World, provides an overview of research and suggests recommendations to institutions assessing modern day influences.  Throughout the book the authors use specific institutions to illustrate their examples.  

The book begins by explaining how market forces such as increased competition from for-profit universities and political/legislative policies provide competition and regulation to higher education.  It then illustrates the disconnect between public expectations of education and current student experiences.  I particularly enjoyed reading how some institutions have prioritized increasing institutional rankings through research and admission of high achieving students.  Changes such as increasing diversity in student backgrounds, students shopping among schools for convenient classes, and increased emphasis on revenue development are also addressed.  

The second half of the book offers recommendations to institutions.  Chapters focusing on increasing autonomy and accountability of institutions, measuring student learning, expanding access and minority achievement in higher education, funding competitive teaching and service grants will help institutions plan for (rather than react to) external pressures.  The book challenges higher education to train students not for vocation but for citizenship, to serve as a safe location for controversial debates, and to conduct research that expands knowledge and benefits the public.  The final chapters address effective strategic planning and implementation as well as outline reasons that market changes will continue to influence higher education in future years.  

This book would greatly benefit university administrators and legislative policy makers, and advising directors will also benefit from reflecting on how changes in higher education have and will continue to impact society.  As advisors our insights about student experiences are particularly important to institutions as they reexamine their higher education goals.  Advisors who understand how external forces influence funding and strategic plans will increase their effectiveness when lobbying administration for student-centered issues such as tuition funding and enrollment management issues.  

The sixty pages of notes, references, and subject/name indexes found at the end of the book prove how dense the factual content is.  I found the summaries at end of each chapter useful; an advisor with limited time might benefit from reading these first.


The Future of Higher Education: Rhetoric, Reality, and the Risks of the Market. (2004). Book by Frank Newman, Lara Couturier and Jamie Scurry. Review by Jenni Stacy-Adams. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 304 pp. ISBN # 0-7879-6972-9
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