Monday, August 16, 2010

Charting a New Course in Higher Ed Regulation

by Daniel L. Bennett

I have an article in the August 2010 Career College Central Magazine discussing the need for radical new higher ed policy in the U.S. I make the case that colleges need to be held more accountable for the outcomes of their students, and that more and better consumer information is needed to ensure that scarce student and taxpayer resources are utilized efficiently. You can download a PDF of the article (kudos to the design team at CCC) or access the complete magazine online.

1 comment:

Overlook said...

Very good article Daniel. Two issues in particular caught my attention. First, your idea of schools taking on some liability for student loan defaults is good. But I found myself wondering - Would the schools pass this cost along in tuition costs? And, to a lesser extent; Does this diminish in any way the student's sense of obligation to pay off the loan?

But the more important question in my opinion is: Why are schools forcing students to leverage their futures at an increasing rate? They don't seem to care, and I don't think they do - which leads back to your idea. So your idea must be valid.

The other issue that caught my attention is holding schools accountable for outcomes that can be subject to the actions of the student post-degree. I think schools would be vehemently against this. But I understand both sides of the issue and at least you are generating ideas rather than accepting the status quo.

I strongly believe you should continue asking questions and putting forth ideas.

I recently read (and forwarded) a piece that compares student loan debt to credit card debt. What is really good about the story is that it ties ballooning student debt to something we can all understand. Hence, it is a more powerful message.

CCAP also published figures comparing average hours worked in the U.S. workforce to average hours spent in class and study by students in college. This comparison revealed a fairly large discrepancy. It showed that on average, students should either enjoy their costly free time, or should better utilize their time to improve grades.

What I am driving at (for all at CCAP) is that I believe quantitative comparison can provide an easy to understand, and powerful method of measurement and magnitude of that which we desire to measure.

I guess because my background is engineering, I like quantitative comparison as means to measure when conventional measurement is not sufficient.

When ships first sailed the oceans of the world, they didn't have sonar or "depth finders" that can exactly measure the distance from the waterline of their ship to the bottom. So they took a very long rope and tied equi-distant knots in the rope; lowered the weighted rope into the water until the rope started to slacken. Then they raised the rope and counted the knots. This was especially necessary in shallow waters to prevent grounding or worse, breaking the keel (even though most early sailing vessels had shoal keels). Could this quantitative comparison be used today (assuming you lost your chart and depth finder)? Anyway, you get the idea.

Again, very interesting and well written article!