Leaders discuss 'rebooting' higher ed to remain competitive
- Colleges and universities are on track to produce 11 million fewer credentialed individuals than the workforce will need by 2025, Dan Greenstein, a senior strategy adviser with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said Tuesday in an ASU+GSV session on how institutions are radically “rebooting” themselves to serve more students at lower costs. “This is a problem of epic proportions,” he said, adding that it’s an issue of equity as well as workforce demands.
- Nivine Megahed, president of National Louis University in Chicago and one of four panelists in the session, talked about reengineering the university’s undergraduate program so that it would cost no more than $10,000. The institution uses technology to scale the model and gives students success coaches. The new model was designed to “drive economic and social mobility,” she said. “We’re serving the new demographic that needs to have an education.”
- When Michael Sorrell became president of Paul Quinn College, a historically black college in Dallas, he said he inherited a failing institution that was only graduating 1% of its students. “We blew everything up,” he said, referring to its Urban Work College model in which students work 10 to 15 hours a week and earn both academic and work transcripts. The college now plans to spread the model across the country. “People say education is the way out of poverty. Money is the way out of poverty,” he said. “We believe in getting students jobs.”
The ASU+GSV speakers also touched on the uncomfortable topic of whether institutions that don’t transform will be forced to “exit,” which in most instances means they will consolidate with other institutions in order to survive, Megahed said.
Budgets, however, can be “vehicles for transformation,” suggested Paul Vallas, who served as superintendent of four urban school districts that were on the verge of bankruptcy, worked as chief administrative officer at Chicago State University and recently announced a run for mayor of Chicago. He emphasized the importance of institutions “dipping into high schools as early as the junior year” and discussed his work in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to allow 12th graders to take college for college credit. The partnership changed schools “into college preparatory institutions,” he said, and “what [the colleges] got was students who were prepared.”
Finally, John Katzman, the CEO of The Noodle Companies — which works with universities to make online degree programs less expensive — suggested that the lines between online and traditional higher education will eventually disappear.
Sorrell, however, reminded attendees not to forget that those who are displaced and struggle with “baggage” that makes learning more challenging. He said institutions need to be “more efficient when people’s lives are less efficient.
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