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Higher Learning (1995)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Romance  |  11 January 1995 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 14,149 users   Metascore: 54/100
Reviews: 134 user | 29 critic | 20 from Metacritic.com

People from all different walks of life, encounter racial tension, rape, responsibility, and the meaning of an education on a university campus.



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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bradford English ...
Dreads (as Busta Rhymez)
Billy (as Jay Ferguson)


Youngsters from different countries, races, and social background are forced to integrate when they all enroll in Columbus University. They all have their own problems, such as finance, harrassment, personal safety, and self doubt. Additionally, campus life seems to be causing a problem for everyone: racism. Students, already under pressure to perform in the classroom, on the track, or in front of their friends, are strained to the breaking point by prejudice, inexperience, and misunderstanding. Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


18.000 Estudiantes 33 Nacionalidades 6 Razas 2 Sexos 1 Campus (18,000 Students 33 Nationalities 6 races 2 Sexes 1 Campus) (Spain release) See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for scenes of violence and sexuality, and for strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 January 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Higher Learning - Die Rebellen  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$38,290,723 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Tupac Shakur was originally set to play the role of Malik but he was jailed shortly after getting the part and the role went instead to Omar Epps. See more »


Immediately after Malik leaves Prof. Phipps' office for the last time in the movie, the camera pans in on a plaque that reads "Columbus University: propter aurum quod autulerunt et propter sanguis quiem effuderunt." Apparently Columbus University's classics department doesn't live up to Columbus University's reputation as one of the nation's premier institutions of higher learning. The plaque is supposed to read, "Columbus University: propter aurum quod abstulerunt et propter sanguinem qui effudit." ("Columbus University: because of the gold that they have taken away and because of the blood that has flowed.") See more »


Professor Phipps: One's primary purpose at university level is to learn how to think.
See more »


Referenced in Psych: Yang 3 in 2D (2010) See more »


Written and Performed by Curtis Mayfield
Courtesy of Curtom Classics
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User Reviews

Well-Rounded View of Extreme Points of View
11 December 2004 | by (Palm Beach, FL) – See all my reviews

The film's design seems to be the alpha and omega of some of the major issues in this country (U.S.). We see relationships all over at the university setting for the film. Befittingly, the obvious of student v.s. teacher is present. But what the film adds to its value is its other relationships: male v.s. female, white v.s. black, and the individual v.s. society. But most important of all and in direct relation to all of the other relationships is the individual v.s. himself.

I was amazed at how bilateral a point of view the director gave to showing the race relations on campus. Most films typically show the injustices of one side while showing the suffering of the other. This film showed the injustices and suffering of both sides. It did not attempt to show how either was right, although I would say the skin heads were shown a much crueler and vindictive (quite obvious towards the end). The film also discusses sex and rape. It is ironically this injustice that in some ways brings the two races together, for a time. Lawrence Fishburne does an over-the-top performance as the sagacious Profesor Phipps. He crumbles the idea of race favortism and instead shows the parallelism of the lazy and down-trodden with the industrious and positive. Other stars that make this film are Omar Epps, Ice Cube, and Jennifer Connelly. Michael Rapaport gives an excellent portrayal of a confused youth with misplaced anger who is looking for acceptance. Tyra Banks make her film debut and proves supermodels can act.

Higher Learning gets its name in showing college as more than going to class and getting a piece of paper. In fact, I would say the film is almost a satire in showing students interactions with each other, rather than some dry book, as the real education at a university. It is a life-learning process, not a textual one. I think you'll find "Higher Learning" is apropos to the important issues at many universities and even life in general. 8/10

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