The U.S. Falls Behind in Higher Ed. What Ever Are We To Do?

Posted by | July 24, 2010 19:44 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

New data shows that U.S. Higher Education is falling behind international rivals:

the College Board warned Thursday that the growing gap between the United States and other countries threatens to undermine American economic competitiveness.

The United States used to lead the world in the number of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees. Now it ranks 12th among 36 developed nations.

Higher education is in the midst of a major transition.  Data like this point toward a greater governmental role (championed by both the Bush and Obama Administrations) in college and university policy.  Part of the problem is outside of university jurisdiction; K-12 education needs to produce students who are more prepared for college.

But colleges and universities also need to realize that society is asking more of them than in previous generations.  If a college education is the minimum ticket to the work force that a high school education was a generation ago, then colleges and universities need to be ready to serve a much broader constituency.  This has vast implications for the way that colleges and universities are run and structured.  It means more of a focus on teaching and preparation of students for the workforce and less focus on a traditional “liberal arts” education and on research.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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