Fixing higher ed: Lumina's Jamie Merisotis
In a story that published Sunday in The Washington Post Magazine, I offer eight suggestions to "fix" higher education. After reading the story, you can rank the ideas in a poll, which you will find farther down on this blog.
For the story, I sought help from several great leaders and thinkers. Some submitted their own thoughts on how to improve higher education. I'm posting them this week. Here is the eighth, from Jamie Merisotis, CEO of the Lumina Foundation.
"This is certainly not an exhaustive or even necessarily balanced list, nor are they presented in any order of importance," he wrote. "Of course, all of this is based on Lumina's efforts to increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality college degrees and credentials to 60% by 2025."
Problem: There are far too few programs available to help displaced workers and working adults to get the new skills they need to advance in the workforce, and the programs that exist take far too long to complete.
Solution: Create accelerated associate degree programs that allow working adults and displaced workers to complete a degree in one year or less, and then expand to all students.
Problem: While use is growing, online education is still not perceived as part of the mainstream of US higher education.
Solution: Create alternative delivery of credits and degrees by establishing virtual colleges in every state and encouraging their use by all students, i.e. WGU-Indiana.
Problem: Far too few students who begin college finish within a reasonable timeframe, representing a huge cost both to students and taxpayers.
Solution: Allocate at least 10% of all public funding for colleges and universities on the basis of completion, particularly the completion of low-income, adult, minority and first-generation students.
Problem: Only 19% of Latino adults hold a college degree.
Solution: Increasing Latino student success should be a deliberate element of national and local strategies; assuring there is a degree in every Latino household should be a priority for policymakers at all levels.
Problem: Employers are not investing enough in developing the skills and talents of their workers through higher education.
Solution: Create tax incentives to spur employer investment in the higher education of their employees as well as in their communities.
Problem: 36 million American adults have attended college and gained some college credit but have not completed a degree or credential.
Solution: Develop a wide range of programs, including a returning student tax credit, to encourage completion of degrees by adults who previously have attended college.
Problem: K-12 education is blamed for higher education's inability to increase degree completion.
Solution: Create state and regional partnerships where higher education defines clear college readiness standards and works with middle/high schools and their own teacher education programs to increase K-12's capacity to graduate all students ready for college.
Problem: Scarce financial aid dollars are used to promote institutional marketing and prestige rather than to primarily serve low-income students.
Solution: Re-focus state and institutional aid programs on need-based aid.
Problem: Students and parents do not have the information they need to make good decisions about higher education.
Solution: Report publicly on outcomes for graduates including information on learning outcomes, employment and wages so that consumers can make more informed decisions about where to invest for college.
Problem: Higher education is poorly linked to local and regional economic and workforce development efforts.
Solution: Create "credentialed labor pools" (CLPs) as an economic development strategy to attract growth sectors. A CLP would be a public-private partnership among HE institutions, government, community and employer associations to create accelerated programs in high-growth sectors that would be used as an asset to attract new investments. CLPs would offer tax credits to businesses that invest in the region and hire from the pool, incentives to institutions that design and offer accelerated programs for the pool, commit students to certain "rules of engagement," and help economic development authorities market their region to investors.
Problem: College degrees are poorly understood in terms of the learning they represent.
Solution: Develop a degree qualifications profile (DQP) to define the specific learning outcomes of every degree issued by accredited colleges and universities.
Problem: Higher education programs and degrees are defined by seat time rather than learning outcomes.
Solution: Develop a new system of learning credits that are based on outcomes, not time. Such a system would encourage the rapid expansion of competency-based programs, assessment of prior learning, and more effective methods of teaching and learning.
Problem: The funds that would be needed to expand the current higher education system to the size needed by the nation do not exist, and are not likely to exist in the future.
Solution: Make the higher education system far more productive by reducing costs throughout higher education, expanding low-cost/high-quality delivery, shortening time to degree, and increasing college completion rates.
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Daniel de Vise
| February 24, 2011; 5:52 PM ET
Categories: Access, Administration, Admissions, Aid, Attainment, Finance, Online, Pedagogy, Public policy, Students, Technology | Tags: fixing higher education, higher education reform, wapo fixing higher education, washington post fixing higher ed
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