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  • Our higher education system is not all that bad…it is only perceived to be so!
  • Posted By:
  • Chris J
  • Posted On:
  • 05-Sep-2014
  • For years, academic, economic and political commentators have been telling us that our system of education is falling apart at the seams. They have been constantly fuelled by the media.

    According to critics, our higher education system is totally inept, unable to cut down on costs, teach the necessary subjects and retain graduate students. They feel that it is time to hold accountable our higher education with the help of the federal and state government to correct such performance.

    Today, tax funded financial aid to the extent of $160 billion is at stake which is why political right and left critics argue against institution autonomy. To support their claim, they may put forth various figures and concerns –

    •    Remediation is essential for at least 20% of students joining college
    •    20% or more students do not finish graduation. In four years, students who complete their undergraduate degree are lesser than 40%
    •    Over the last three decades, there has been a 500% increase in the cost of degree
    •    A reason often cited by President Obama our country, as compared to global rankings of other countries in terms of college graduate percentage in the workforce is in a free fall.
    •    When they are hired, recent graduates are not found to be “work ready” by employers. According to a poll of business leaders conducted by the Lumina/Gallup Foundation, students with necessary competencies and skills were prepared only by one third of our higher education institutions.

    When we look at these real-time statistics, there can be no doubt in our minds that we face real problems and must address them before it is too late.

    In the NEA Higher Education Journal, Fall 2002 issue, Henry Lee Allen claimed that there is no society in the world that has established a great legacy in the form of the highly diverse, productive and large post-secondary education system.

    His statement made on that day is still left unchallenged. Does this mean that it is only in the last twelve years or so, we have lost all of this? To understand this, we must take a closer look.

    •    Statistics show that we are only second to South Korea in the highest percentage of people enrolled in higher education of some form.
    •    In terms of higher education diversity, another country in the world is yet to beat us. This means we are the only country offering two year, four year, private, public, online, graduate, profession specific courses, religious and research oriented courses.
    •    When it comes to the number of Nobel Laureates and world rankings, we continue to dominate. .
    When we are talking about all these positives, one point to be noted here is that it is not only about our elite schools. Providing accessible skills at affordable costs, our community college system is doing great on all fronts.

    When we consider all this, we can clearly see how flawed our public perception is. We can say with certainty that our universities and colleges are changing for the better. Competency-based models and MOOCS are the latest forms of business practice and instruction being embraced. We have always proved that we can rise to any challenge. Only issue here, as I see it is that our society is sometimes over critical of itself.


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