On the one hand, the conventional and traditional position of the good of higher education is defended against the current wave of anti-higher-education chatter.
On the other hand, there are two pretty persuasive types of arguments against higher education as it is done today:
(1) Economics: it costs too much, and the money is used only to increase the university's prestige rather than better education.
(2) Useless research: instead of citing mainstream media on this, see instead this researcher's commentary (pdf) on systems software research, and this on Realtime Linux: academia v. reality as prime examples.
But actually, what bothers me more is the job prospects in higher education. Here's a professor wanting to convince students to not become a scientist. Here's noting that science doesn't pay. The chatter on what it's like to work in academia doesn't sound all too pleasing either.
It's a legitimate question: what good is higher education?
(Edit: and I answer it in Higher Education is like Traveling!)