In July 1988, the then Minister of Education, Employment and Training for the Commonwealth of Australia, the Hon. John Dawkins MP, released a document called "Higher Education: a policy statement". The document, which became known as "The White Paper", set out the Labor Government's policy for higher education, and it challenged, and overturned, many of the attitudes in government policies of the past. It set new policies, procedures and objectives for higher education in Australia. Have these changes been beneficial or deleterious? In this paper, it is the intention to describe these polices and their effects, in broad terms, with an emphasis on the changed culture and perceived purposes of universities in Australia. It will be argued that there have been some beneficial effects. But the notion of universities as corporate institutions, the emphasis on profit as an intellectual incentive, the perception of students as customers, and the idea that universities should respond in an immediate sense to government directives under a guise of "accountability", have weakened and narrowed the educational, intellectual and human ideals traditionally associated with universities. However, these changes should not simply be seen as special to universities. Rather, they should be seen as an area of public policy which is revealing of changes in some of the underlying assumptions in western societies.