A well-respected national newspaper that covers higher education published a package of stories Monday that was critical of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s influence on higher education.
The Chronicle of Higher Education report calculated that the Seattle foundation has spent $472 million to remake U.S. higher education since 2006. The amount makes the foundation the largest player in the higher education reform movement.
In the report, which raises questions about the extent of the foundation’s influence, The Chronicle says it has funded research, advocated reform policies and helped build a consensus among other foundations, state lawmakers, policy advocates and the Obama administration that emphasizes “graduating more students, more quickly, and at a lower cost, with little discussion of the alternatives.”
The report says that higher-education analysts who don’t agree with the Gates approach “see their expertise bypassed as Gates moves aggressively to develop strategies for reform.”
“Some leaders and analysts are uneasy about the future that Gates is buying: a system of education designed for maximum measurability, delivered increasingly through technology, and — these critics say — narrowly focused on equipping students for short-term employability,” the Chronicle report says.
The report also notes that the foundation has kept its reform goals on the national agenda by supporting news organizations that cover higher education. That includes The Chronicle, which has received two contracts totaling about $850,000 from the foundation to support work on two stand-alone websites, College Completion and College Reality Check.
Most of the report is available for free for the next few days on The Chronicle’s website.