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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Center for Higher Education Outlines Needed Changes


Taking Charge by Andrew Kelly and Andrew Lautzenheiser from the Center of Higher Education Reform discusses the need for change at the state level of higher education systems. The report outlines a number of changes that include innovation, cost effectiveness, learning outcomes, assessment, and legislative changes. It indicates that these changes are necessary if the U.S. is going to meet coming labor demands. 

The report discusses that 31 states still have budget deficits and they look to higher education to drive growth and innovation. Degree related positions are likely to increase based upon the inherent necessity of the market. By 2018 it is expected that nearly 2/3rds of all jobs will require a secondary degree in 2-year job skills training. The U.S. will also not meet these education needs falling short about 3 million people. 

Furthermore, the traditional 18-22 year old that attends a campus is less than a quarter of the population. Most students will be above the age of 25, have jobs, and are likely to use online education. Even though campus colleges have raised in price three times the rate of inflation there has been little improvement in the general quality. A total of 36% didn’t show any signs of increased critical thinking, complex reasoning, or writing skills after four years. 

The report makes a couple of suggestions that include the following:

-Create incentives for developing student learning.

-Encourage cost-effectiveness.

-Create transparency.

-Encourage innovation. 

The report argues that allowing for full transfer credits and proper assessment of student outcomes can create a stronger higher education system. This would reduce redundancy within the educational processes as well as ensure students are actually learning the material. The very purpose of higher education is to educate above and beyond other considerations. 

The very nature and culture of college education must change in order to be cost effective so that states and society can earn a return on their investment.  It is a common approach for universities to highlight how much they spend on students. Yet this paradigm must change if colleges are going to avoid a common urged to seek additional revenue and then spend all that revenue in unproductive pursuits. 

Better student assessment measures are needed to ensure that students are learning. With the high cost of education it is beneficial to work on the core purposes of education in terms of preparing students to be critical thinkers who can communicate well with others. They also need to be prepared to compete in a more global market against hungry international forces. 

The report argues that innovation in higher education is often stifled quickly based upon a number of interests. However, it is this innovation that will lead to higher levels of student learning and cost effective operations. At present a number of states restrict new types of schools and methods that could prove to be beneficial later.

You may obtain your own copy of the report HERE

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