Transforming the Value Proposition

Patricia McGuire, Inside Higher Ed, Dec 11, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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I think it's more than just American education that has "lost the narrative" and I think it was in need of a rethink well before Trump. And I've also expressed my scepticism in the past about the ability of the higher education sector to reform itself. I continue to be sceptical. Higher education as a whole, as Patricia McGuire says, "has been adrift in a devolving eddy of self-pity, whining about overregulation while obsessing about bracket placements and rankings, pandering to political and philanthropic overlords while remaining largely silent on the great social issues of our times."

So what's needed? McGuire identifies three major areas of change:

  • Expand access to college - "change the interior circumstances of costs, culture, educational programs and pathways that would enlarge the pipeline and ensure success... focus on students and less on institutions."
  • Reform the cost-price structure - college is "entirely too expensive for most people to bear, even with generous financial aid" and "debt burdens are impossibly heavy."
  • Reclaim their voice - "the young [should] perceive clearly where we elders stand on issues like human rights, world poverty and hunger, good government, preserving the fragile ecosphere..."

These issues have all received priority in these pages. As,  I believe, they should.

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