- The state of Washington will begin offering two-year colleges increased funding for programs which pair well with high-demand industries in the region this fall.
- Funding will come from redistributed resources among institutional members of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, a move that some say threatens the viability of liberal arts programs.
- Continuing education, language and remedial courses will still be offered under the new plan, but officials say they are among the most expensive to operate.
The future of higher education will depend on the synergy between academic courses and industrial needs, but it doesn’t necessarily promote the death of liberal arts. Many tech company executives in recent years have expressed a preference for employees with liberal arts degrees, as liberal arts disciplines teach students how to be more flexible and adaptable and quick-thinking. Good college leaders will be able to make a case for the survival of a wide range of programs, by adapting degree concentrations or minors to specific regional needs.
In metropolitan areas where technology, public health, criminal justice and business are thriving industries, there remains room for colleges to produce the project managers, public relations and marketing experts and case workers to meet necessary jobs. In rural areas where agriculture is the dominant industry, teacher education and professional services will be essential jobs in managing cooperative extension and agribusiness development.