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  • Higher Education Issues Staring At us in 2014
  • Posted By:
  • Kathy H
  • Posted On:
  • 01-Oct-2014
  • Our higher education, for the past decade or so, has been cruelly flung on hard rock. Through the journey, students continued to suffer. Have the winds changed? Is there any hope for us in 2014? Well, though we would love to think so, the situation says, no! There is no prospect of relief yet for students and their families with many top issues dominating. Let’s look at some of them here.

    Tuition cost remains top on the list of concerns for the American public and of course, the administration. Public institutions have been forced to raise tuition and fees over the last five years predominantly due to cuts in state tax support. At least 75% of our students are enrolled at the public universities and colleges which is the sector that has experienced the highest cost increase.

    A major issue faced by employers today, who have, by the way, started hiring is finding employees with the necessary skills. This directly translates to the fact that our higher education system is not producing the right future workers. There is a skills gap that needs to be filled. Another issue here is that there is minimal or no effort by industry and businesses to increase degree completion among employees.

    Schools are gradually moving into the realm of offering competency based education. There is a lot of media attention too. Before we venture into this, it is important to first understand what competency is about, devise accurate ways to measure it and also decide on what can be done once a student attains his degree through this process.

    2014 will see the new regulations and policy testing as a part of the renewal of Higher Education Act. This is encouraging news. Parties are also focused on accreditation reform. It is however imperative to find out whether any such reform is going to be quality based and to also determine whether the present system is too lax or too difficult.

    Another major issue faced by our higher education system today is assessment. Institutional effectiveness today is assessed through learning outcome assessment. The discouraging part here is that methods and tools to determine skill and learning acquisition that are widely accepted and valid are hard to come by today.

    If you look around carefully, you will find that there is a significant shift in student demographics. Campuses, especially the full-time ones are not filled with 18 to 24 year olds. Most of the students are in the older age group working part time.

    In our country, the economy is turning around and people are happy with the improving employment opportunities. This is of course good news. However, there is a segment of people who feel that in order to be employed, college education is not really necessary.

    Various comparisons between cost and value of education are being published on a frequent basis adding fuel to fire. What people do not realize is that these comparisons are usually done for the elite private institutions.


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