In this chapter we begin by defending two aims which we believe are fundamental to higher education: the development of critical thinking and the fostering of theoretical diversity. In the second section we turn to the two models of university life which have been prevalent in New Zealand at one time or another. Up until recently the 'idea of a university' which prevailed in most countries of the western world, including New Zealand, was informed by the 'liberal' tradition of education. The main concerns of universities from this point of view were the cultivation of the intellect, the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake and the custodianship of culture. This tradition is now being displaced by a model of university life which judges the worth of education and research according to vocational or commercial criteria. The aim of this section is not to provide a fully fledged alternative for universities but to attempt to redefine the parameters of debate by examining the extent to which these models support or undermine the fundamental aims noted above.