Universities can get away with obscurantism and enforced ideological conformism because of their enormous power over labor markets. They are no longer primarily about learning, as Jane Jacobs noted, but about providing the credential needed for a high paying job. One recent study of American college students found that more than one-third "did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning" in four years of college. Employers report that recent graduates are short on critical thinking skills.
Equally worrying is that students in the West are not acquiring familiarity with their own cultural heritage. Universities no longer take the care they once did to transmit the genius of the past—with its often inconvenient lessons—to the next generation. We are in danger of "mass amnesia," being cut off from knowledge of our own cultural history, writes Jacobs.