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The Challenges Facing Low-Quality Universities

From The New Republic: "A Much Needed Challenge To Low-Quality Universities."  Higher education is in crisis.  Out of touch thinkers and policymakers. Skyrocketing costs (even faster than healthcare.)  Mounting student loan debts.  De-emphasized teaching and research while administrative layers grow without limit.

Despite the serenity of most college campuses,
"...the reality of higher education is that most students today don’t have access idyllic (and expensive) college experience, never have, and never will. Instead, many get stuck in big, low-cost lecture courses of indifferent quality provided by institutions that treat students like anonymous tenants. Those are the places that are going to be transformed by technology.

"These disruptions will take many forms. While it’s impossible to predict exactly what the typical college student’s educational experience of the future will look like, the changes will almost definitely include a decline in the number of students living in or commuting to physical locations to attend classes. Instead, students will accumulate credits from a range of different online providers, each specializing in different subjects and programs. Some firms will focus on tutoring, some on career counseling, some in assessing knowledge and skills. Students will increasingly use the fast-growing library of free content being generated by the Open Educational Resources movement. The component parts of the traditional conglomerate university will be picked off by specialty providers, just as newspapers have seen different pieces of their business model attacked by Craigslist (classifieds), blogs (op-eds), Groupon (local advertising), and more.

"The institutions likely to get hit earliest and hardest include a lot of relatively non-selective regional four-year universities, many of which are continuing to raise prices in vain attempts to climb the U.S. News & World Report status ladder. They also include many high-flying for-profit institutions. The brave new world of online higher education isn’t necessarily one where everyone goes to the University of Phoenix. Publicly-traded for-profits like Phoenix, Kaplan University, Corinthian, and others have been successful primarily through innovations in marketing, business processes, harvesting federal financial aid dollars, and scale. Their actual educational programs, even those conducted online, are often quite traditional—and expensive. When technology does to higher education what it has done to scores of other industries—empower consumers, create new markets, and rip huge amounts of cost out of the system—the least innovative for-profits could be the first to fall."

Empower consumers.  Create new markets.  Rip huge amounts of cost out of the system.  Of course it happens AFTER my daughters have graduated.


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