Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently addressed the underlying causes of the decline of higher education system in the U.S. and proposed a couple of solutions. Mr. Duncan believes that universities are no longer appealing to students because they focus less on providing students with quality degrees at lower costs.
Duncan expressed his view on education issues Monday during a speech delivered at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). The Education Secretary believes though that removing debt from students’ back is not the only solution. Higher education should also focus on delivering quality and better job prospects for graduates, or simply put “outcomes.”
He also noted that regulators unfortunately focus on tackling higher education costs but lose sight of the poor quality of training. F. King Alexander, head of Louisiana State University who also took part in the event, shared a similar view.
“We need to increase access and success, persistence and retention, and make sure our graduates walk away with little-to-no debt, and walk into fulfilling careers,”
He added that improving higher education can be made through a three-step approach. First, universities should be focused more on outcomes and less on money, second states should support public universities more, and third, regulators should issue strict rules that ensure accountability.
Alexander also noted that the current “national reality” is grim although the numbers may show that universities are doing “the right thing”. He pointed out that too many students choose to default, while others drop their studies or don’t even bother to start.
Duncan said that the nation’s students have a very clear view on what they expect from higher education. Students usually seek to be set on a path to success after graduation without the burden of decade-long student loans. The college degree should also help them live independently and have enough financial stability to be able to support their families.
But in reality, higher education institutions fail to deliver what students “need, and deserve,” Duncan noted. He proposed as partial solution debt-free degrees. He explained that debt and costs are not the only problem of America colleges. Poor education is also a problem. And if regulators plant to tackle just the financial facet of the problem, the U.S. would end up paying for a system that offers next to nothing to its students.
Heads of the LaGuardia Community College, North Carolina Community College, Northern Virginia Community College, State University of New York, and Morgan State University also attended the event.
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