During my university student life here in Brazil, I've heard and read different opinions about the goals of modern university, from "provide social justice" to "form an intellectual elite". That's why I'm looking for books or articles about the goals of present universities and the relation between those goals and the history of universities.
That's even more relevant now that I am a professor, because students commonly complain about having to study things that they consider irrelevant to themselves. I've been teaching "Physics for Agrarian Sciences", and that problem is bigger there because some students think they will not use that much Physics during their professional lives.
I tend to answer that some may not use it but others will, and that university is supposed to provide more knowledge than that directly applicable, due to its "high education" character. Otherwise, they could get some non-university technician degrees available at technical schools.
On the other hand, I'm not sure that my view of what a university is or should be is consistent with its origins and evolution.