The Pursuit of Excellence

For all their abiding troubles, U.S. universities and colleges are a powerful magnet for foreign students in search of freedom and diversity

Sometime around the seventh grade, many American students are introduced to the tale of 10 blind men inspecting an elephant. When each blind man reaches different conclusions about the creature, the students are invited to consider whether truth is absolute or lies in the eye of the beholder. College professors and administrators might want to remember that fable when they take the measure of American higher education. Many of them, who tend to see only what they stand to lose, perceive the beast as wounded, suffering from the shocks of rising costs, dwindling resources and life-draining cutbacks. But foreigners, who compare...

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