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  • University Presidents express concern over Obama’s College Grading System
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  • 09-Aug-2014

  • There is a lot of scepticism among university presidents that their campuses may enjoy limited accessibility and become less diverse if our President’s college grading system comes into force. According to Rick Hurley, president of University of Mary Washington, higher education rating system of the administration may not be the right thing keeping in mind the overall health of the universities.

    According to Hurley, all funds that are presently used to recruit students who are underrepresented in the society will definitely be diverted to fund scholarships based on merits if the rating system comes into force. He feels that it is not enough to take into account just one measure namely merit which is a good enough indication of success. According to Hurley, it is imperative at this stage to create a better learning environment through a diverse student body.

    A letter signed by Hurley, who is also Virginia Council of President’s head was by other university presidents in the state. This letter was recently sent to Arne Duncan, the secretary of education and to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office.

    This letter urged the administration to rethink on the detrimental aspects of implementing President Obama’s rating system proposal. In this letter, university presidents state that while they are in support of any measure that will make higher education more affordable, they have serious reservations on this rating system.

    In terms of occurrence, this collaboration is indeed rare. Presidents of diverse campuses such as community colleges, four year colleges, private and public universities have gotten together for a common cause. Some of the campuses in Virginia that are a part of this initiative include Piedmont Virginia Community College, Virginia State University, James Madison University and College of William & Mary.

    One of the goals of the federal government is to get higher education institutions to be more accountable. This they hope to achieve by implementing the rating system that creates a list sponsored by the government.

    This is similar to US News & World Report, Princeton Review and other such private companies. Saddled with rising tuition and questionable employment opportunities after completion of education, schools will have to prove their worthiness to create the ranking.

    Three important concerns through implementation of this rating system are listed in the letter. Under the proposal, the letter says that there will be no benefits for the non-traditional student population. As the graduation rate calculation system is always regarded as flawed, it is not fair to base the rating system on graduation rates. It is also not fair to place so much weightage on income of graduates as it is against American higher education principles.

    The letter further emphasizes that linking the rating system to federal student aid will result in increased pressure on institutions to enhance graduation rates which they will be forced to do by enrolling students who enter high paying professions and students from high income families. Hurley ends the letter in an optimistic note hoping that the federal government will consider their concerns.


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