Posted by: crudbasher | December 13, 2011

A Panel On Problems With Higher Education

(cc) mikebaird

Apparently there was a panel recently about the future of higher education. According to this article, most of the panelists didn’t really give many answers about where they thought the industry was going. They did however spend a lot of time talking about problems with higher education.

That’s nice I suppose. What you see here is an industry ripe for disruptive innovation. They are so focused on their immediate problems, they don’t see the other forces shaping the new world that universities will soon find themselves in. Even so, by no means am I saying what they are talking about is wrong. Here is what they see as problems:

  1. Funding reductions by states.
  2. Tuition costs are increasing, placing college out of reach of some people.
  3. Starting with high school graduates who are increasingly poor on basic skills, thus forcing colleges to provide remediation classes.

I’d like to address these issues.

  1. If your industry can’t handle an economic downturn, then you haven’t been wise with the money during the good years. How many VPs of Diversity do you actually need?
  2. College is a finite resource. As the government chokes the financial aid system with money, prices will rise to absorb the extra funding. That’s just economics. Ironically, providing more student aid will make it harder for lower qualified students to attend college.
  3. Should we consider that not all students should attend college? If these students need a lot of remediation, why are they there in the first place? I’m just asking.

There is something the panel said though that I completely agree with.

In a time of cultural and economic turmoil, universities may be “out to sea as a tsunami of change comes through, destroying everything on land.”

I would agree with that statement except I would use a stormfront analogy rather than a tsunami. 🙂

  • Much sound and fury about problems in higher ed.

    tags: education highered panel problems nell

    • The conference was billed as a symposium on the future of higher education.


      But, by and large, speakers at the forum organized by the New School, part of its conference series on social research, were focused on the challenges of today, not on the possibilities of tomorrow—or those 20 years down the road.

    • speaker after speaker at the conference, which began Thursday night and ran through Friday, expressed fears about the growing affordability crisis facing higher education.
    • Jamshed Bharucha, president of Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, called access to college “as serious a problem today as it has been since World War II.”
    • a proposal by Jonathan R. Cole, a professor and former provost at Columbia University, to form “intellectual leagues” of like-minded universities that would permit shared course work for students and greater collaboration among faculty members.
    • But, in general, the visions of innovation offered up by panelists—more online learning, greater engagement with public schools, new forms of financial aid—were far from revolutionary and frequently short on specifics.
    • If speakers were short on prescriptions for change, they were long on the diagnoses of what ails higher education, from unprepared students to public officials preoccupied with standardized testing.
    • Henry S. Bienen, a former president of Northwestern University, concurred that fixing elementary and secondary education is a critical challenge for American colleges. Mr. Bienen, speaking on a panel Friday morning, said just 8 percent of the graduates of the Chicago public schools, on whose board he sits, are college ready.
    • M.S. Vijay Kumar, senior associate dean of undergraduate education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said colleges need to become more comfortable with online and hybrid forms of learning.
    • While many colleges are wary of technology, Mr. Kumar said, their students are not. Online education not only has the potential to reach many more people, but it also could upend the longstanding business model of higher education, he warned.
    • Universities are “engines of innovation intellectually,” said Cooper Union’s Mr. Bharucha, “but they’re extremely reluctant to innovate pedagogically.”
    • And James J. Duderstadt, a former president of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, suggested that many in academe may not see a need to do things differently. In a time of cultural and economic turmoil, universities may be “out to sea as a tsunami of change comes through, destroying everything on land.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


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