Calls for 'money-back' guarantees troublesome for higher ed
- The Hechinger Report analyzes a growing culture of calling for reform to federal regulations to hold institutions accountable for reduction of the national student loan debt total.
- Federal lawmakers are moving towards legislation which would increase risk-sharing for institutions and are looking towards models in place at schools like Buffalo State College and SUNY Fredonia in New York, which offer support in free tuition or tuition repayment for students who meet certain requirements but do not finish in four years or are in job searches.
- While a recent UCLA survey of first-year college students revealed that 60% of respondents believed enrolling in college would help them to get a good job, some observers believe that families will reject high costs and repayment terms as the only pathway to career success.
Higher education is working to respond to its various crises in debt loads, industrial training, inefficiencies in programs and facilities, and geographic obstacles to institutional growth. But it is impossible for campuses to fight all of these battles at once while still competing for students from increasingly poorer families and communities.
The strategy for institutions is to find ways to do a few things exceptionally well, and to focus recruitment, development and expansion on areas of strength which pair well with industrial needs of the region. This is the best way to focus research that can earn funding and attention from public sources, while captivating industrial partners and student interest in the academic enterprise. Higher education is not an industry that is too big to fail, and it is up to leaders to figure out how to shrink to keep pace with trends.