Key points of reference for the current debate:
Stefan Collini, 'Browne's Gamble'. LRB 32.21 (4 November 2010). [See also David Willett's speech on "The Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in the Modern University"]
Stefan Collini, 'From Robbins to McKinsey'. LRB 33.16 (25 August 2011).
Martha C. Nussbaum, Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010. You can download the first chapter from the official site.
The Purpose of Liberal Education:
Martha C. Nussbaum, Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education. Harvard University Press, 1998. Preview available on Google Books.
Bill Readings, The University In Ruins. Harvard University Press, 1996. Preview.
The Role of the Intellectual:
Bruce Robbins, Secular Vocations: Intellectuals, Professionalism, Culture. London: Verso, 1993. Preview.
Bruce Robbins, Intellectuals: Aesthetics, Politics, Academics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990. Preview.