open-door collegeBurton Clark's (1960) term for those forms of HIGHER EDUCATION institution in which access is open to anyone possessing basic qualifications or sometimes with no formal qualifications. This being so, ‘open-door colleges’ are the polar opposite of’élite‘ institutions. As discussed by Clark, open-door institutions will tend to adopt a ‘service’ orientation towards their clients, providing what is demanded rather than what they would ideally wish to provide. There are gains and losses in this arrangement in which student culture and extra-academic criteria generally tend to call the tune. According to Clark, it is likely that modern higher educational systems preserve a separate élite, academic provision as part of a diversified system of higher education (see MASS HIGHER EDUCATION).
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000