A Test of Leadership–Charting the Future of U.S. Higher Education

September 20, 2006 at 10:18 pm 2 comments

I just blogged about this on my personal blog, but I thought that Library Gardeners would like to read about it as well, so here it is:

In September 2005, “Secretary Spellings formed the Commission on the Future of Higher Education to launch a national dialogue on the need to strengthen higher education so that our students and our nation will remain competitive in the 21st century.”

It is stated here that their report and the response plan associated with it will be of interest to and respond to the “needs of all consumers of the system—educators, institutions, taxpayers, parents, and students.” Certainly, academic librarians and other educators will want to read this–don’t you agree?

Anyway, in case you did not know, for about a year, the Commission met, discussed, debated, and came up with conclusions and recommendations, important for all of us. They determined that the current system of higher education within the U.S. does not work well for some, especially low-income and minorities; financial aid needs a lot of work; and better information on our institutions is needed—certainly seems accurate.

Yesterday, the Commission presented its report to the Secretary, listing “recommendations designed to improve the accessibility, affordability and accountability of higher education,” quoted below:

  1. Student academic preparation should be improved and financial aid made available so that more students are able to access and afford a quality higher education.
  2. The entire student financial aid system should be simplified, restructured and provided with incentives to better manage costs and measure performance.
  3. A “robust culture of accountability and transparency” should be cultivated throughout the higher education system, aided by new systems of data measurement and a publicly available information database with comparable college information. There should also be a greater focus on student learning and development of a more outcome-focused accreditation system.
  4. Colleges and universities should embrace continuous innovation and quality improvement.
  5. Federal investments should be targeted to areas critical to America’s global competitiveness, such as math, science, and foreign languages.
  6. A strategy for lifelong learning should be developed to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of a college education to every American’s future.

On the 4th item above, I would like to insert after “universities” and before “should” this: “including their libraries,” or maybe even, “especially….” Adding “libraries” to the 6th item would work for me, too, especially if it stated how we are already assisting in this endeavor–what do you think?

Follow this link for highlights of the Commission’s report, for the entire full text report, and info on the Commission itself, all on the ed.gov site, and I recommend looking for the Secretary of Education’s action plan/response soon in the press.

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  • 1. TheBizofKnowledge  |  September 21, 2006 at 8:50 am

    I would really like to see the financial aid system overhauled and simplified. I think a lot of students and their families lack a true understanding of how the process works because it’s pretty complicated. Accessibility and affordability are definitely issues that need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

  • 2. 100Student  |  December 4, 2006 at 3:40 am


    I recently published an article on the dangers and benefits of student loans and other forms of college financial aid – here is a quote from it, in case you are interested:
    Student loans repayment can be a real nightmare without adopting some strategies that would help the new graduates to organize their social and financial life. Here are some strategies they can use to do this:
    – An additional part-time job;
    – Freelancing is another option (meaning that they can do particular pieces of work for different organisations, without working all the time for a single organisation);
    – They should try to keep their living expenses as low as possible (live in a smaller apartment, live with a roommate to share some of the expenses, find an apartment that is closer to the job, to eliminate the extra-expenses for transport etc.);
    – To apply for forbearance (this is an immediate solution for hard times when the new graduate is in impossibility to re-pay the amount of money and the need for student loan consolidation becomes apparent; it is a temporary period, when the graduate can postpone or delay his or her re-payments until a later time on a federal or direct loan after the beginning of the re-payment, and when the student doesn’t qualify for deferral). The forbearance must be applied through the lenders of the loans.
    – To consolidate the payments.
    If you feel this helps, please drop by my website for additional information, such as federal student loans information or additional resources on private student loans .



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