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Companies and Universities

In my previous post, I explored the influences of non-commercial groups on the modern university. I concluded that most such groups have little influence. Commercial groups are another story. There are two main groups that influence a university campus. The first group is financial institutions. The second group is publishers.

There are many other companies that provide services to university students. The university bookstore, the local fast food options and the power companies could all be included. However, none of these companies are both powerful enough to influence the university and specifically target the university as such. Publishers not only supply university libraries but also sell textbooks to students. Financial institutions will loan money to universities and invest university money but they will also and primarily manage student loans.

Publishers provide for universities in two ways. They publish academic books and journals for university libraries. They publish textbooks to sell to students. This influences universities in a number of ways. One way is the cost. Both textbooks and academic books have high costs. The cost is much higher than the actual cost of the work. This provides publishers with large profits. Another way that they influence universities is by choosing what textbooks to publish and what content will be in those textbooks. If an academic publisher refuses to publish your work, then other academics will probably not read it. This is a way of controlling speech to eliminate what the publishers do not like. Finally, publishers can indirectly support university attendance. Since reading a work may require attending university, this insures that their market is protected.

Financial institutions largely influence universities through student loans. Available and easy to get loans encourage students to go to university even if they do not have the money to do so. When the time comes to repay those loans, the financial institutions regain their money many times over. In Canada, it is forbidden for students to default on their loans for economic reasons. Bankruptcy is simply impossible. In the United States, many students pay for their large educational costs out of private loans from such institutions as banks. This results in students paying back large sums of money that are far greater than what the loan originally was. It is in the interest of these institutions to encourage students to make easy loans since they know that the government will support them and force the students to pay back the loan. This has the effect of inflating the student population beyond what the university should provide.

Overall, these two groups are not acting in the interest of students or of education. They are acting in their own interest and in the interest of their own pocket. As a result, the university has students that are attending classes who either are not interested in being educated or merely wish to use the library!

All remaining groups are individuals or associations. Next, I will discuss the situation of students.

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