Last year, for reasons not altogether clear to me, the British government issued a white paper saying that non-teaching institutions would soon have the power to award degrees. Now, as was anticipated, the Pearson corporation says that it plans to award degrees to complete its role as the ultimate education organization of our era. Of course, Pearson could just buy a struggling college or university and change its name, but it doesn’t plan to do that. It has already opened “Pearson College.”

This is all very puzzling. Businesses awarding degrees in business, technology, or maybe even in liberal arts, perhaps online. 

I am not enough of a visionary to understand why it is a good idea for a university education to be redefined to mean that you can pick up a degree over the counter or online without ever meeting a scholar. And I am no fan of for-profit universities in principle.

Is it about handing out degrees? Is it about dumbing down higher education? Is it a business plan to make money?

Or is it something else?