Disrupting the Cartel: A Critical Look at Higher Education

Alex Greenwood
4 min readJul 6

The intricate framework of higher education has long been compared to that of cartels due to its control, exclusivity, and high costs. Particularly in the United States, the standard higher education system manifests certain characteristics that mirror those of a cartel.

Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

Despite this, traditional higher education has made significant contributions to society. Universities and research institutions have advanced knowledge through scientific research, leading to vital discoveries and innovations across various fields. They have also fostered intellectual communities and promoted critical thinking skills, equipping students with tools crucial for both academic and professional settings.

The Paradox of Higher Education

Throughout a quarter of my career spent working in higher education before establishing my company, I found that the passionate individuals within higher ed were devoted to students’ best interests.

However, their dedication doesn’t extend to empathy about the gatekeeping preventing students from attending prestigious schools, or the exorbitant costs of university education universally.

These inequalities that threaten the credibility and effectiveness of higher education must be addressed before future students turn away from it as a viable option.

Understanding the Cartel Model

To understand the comparison, one must first have a clear grasp of what a cartel is. In essence, a cartel is an association of manufacturers or suppliers with the purpose of maintaining high prices and restricting competition. Typically, the member organizations work together to regulate production, pricing, and marketing for mutual benefit. This creates a market that’s disadvantageous for consumers, who are forced to contend with high prices and limited choice.

Unmasking the Cartel-like Tendencies in Higher Education

Alex Greenwood

PR Consultant, Speaker, Podcast Producer/Host, Editor, and Award-Winning Writer of the John Pilate Mystery Series. Accomplished belly laugher.