Larry Summers: universities should create opportunity & offer scale + personalisation by using tech!
Here is the full transcipt of what Larry Summers said in his talk at the @allin Summit 2023: You were the president of Harvard. There was a very, let’s call it important divisive foundational case that just went through the Supreme Court on affirmative action. You wrote actually a pretty interesting op-ed about all of this. Give us your thoughts about what is working inside of higher education, what you think about that ruling. I wish that ruling hadn’t happened. I wish that great universities were in a position to set their course and to compete with each other and to admit students as they saw fit. But I think after that ruling, it is clear what the right theme should be. And that theme is opportunity, that the great strength of our universities should be that they make it certain everyone has an opportunity to succeed and get to the top, no matter where and what circumstances that they were born. And I think there’s much more that our great universities can do, and they’re things that are much more important than arguing about diversity policies that could get us there. Here are some of them: Whatever the right way to think about this was four years ago, the time for legacy admissions is over. If there are scarce spots in our great universities, having your father hire a fantastic coach. To teach you to play a Country Club sport at an extraordinary level should not be a path to admission to our leading intellectual institutions. Let’s end athletic recruiting for aristocrat, for aristocratic sports. It’s really a nice thing. It’s a nice thing, it’s a good thing. And it has a lot of good things for most of the people in this room that there exists early decision and early action, but it basically works to help the privileged. And it basically prevents the underprivileged, less privileged, from shopping their financial aid offers and getting the deals they should. We would not permit Goldman Sachs to make exploding offers to our MBA students. Why should great colleges make exploding offers to admitted students. I didn’t really know till I got involved with Silicon Valley that scale was a verb as distinct from a noun. I thought it was something you kind of stepped on in the bathroom. If you think about it, any institution, almost any other institution in the society, nearly a 10th of successful as Stanford or Harvard. They have far more customers today than it did 50 years ago. And yet, our universities have not grown their size of their students on campus, and they have moved only glacially to use the incredible opportunities that technology presents to provide education which, and this is what’s remarkable about educational technology, if you think about it, it can be much faster scale and at the same time be much more personalized. You can go at your own pace, you can hit, you can hyperlink it, go deeper into the things that you’re interested in. And so scale plus personalization creates incredible possibility and our universities have only scatched the surfuce of what is possible.