Some familiar themes, some new takes on them, at recent meeting of European University Association
…post-Bologna Process…new teaching tools…changes student body…alter university landscape…changes in technology and learning expectations…universities have to change…important to push student learning…learning in more individual way…digital learning moving to tablets and smartphones…MOOCs…MOOCs help bridge school-university gap by opening courses to high school students…rise in lifelong learners..new demographic mix…teaching is changing…globalization… attract international students…curriculum changes and training in cultural differences needed…prepare them for a globally functioning world.
The New York Times
EUROPE | INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION
Adapting for the Future at European University Conference
by CHRISTOPHER F. SCHUETZE APRIL27, 2014
BRUSSELS — Senior European academics, university officers and policy makers met this month at the European University Association’s annual conference in Brussels to discuss the rapidly changing European higher education market.
European Union member states have increasingly standardized their degrees and courses under agreements known as the Bologna Process. Now, policy makers are looking to a future in which new teaching tools and changes in the student body could significantly alter the university landscape.
I’ve long been an advocate of cutting tuition and getting away from the wrong-headed “luxury-price signals quality product” logic so common in lower and middle tier higher education. There are many reasons not to “just do it,” but more than a few things in favor of the idea should at least motivate serious discussion:
- honesty in pricing might better reflect institutional values;
- some prospective students never consider a school, knowing sticker price is out of their reach; the current system discriminates against such “humble realists”;
- institutions should grapple with the fact that full-pay families might not be willing to participate in the institution’s redistribution scheme if they thought (knew) about it;
- it is not clear there is any dis-interested, scientifically valid research on the implications;
- revenue models rarely take into account the cost of administering Byzantine financial aid schemes;
- some institutions are unfairly labeled “elitist” based on sticker price alienating people to whom their mission otherwise would appeal;
- tuition discounting is one of many opacity practices that undermine administrators’, board members’, and faculty members’ capacity to effectively monitor the economics of their institutions.
A list of resources from around the Web about education as selected by researchers and editors of The New York Times.
Financial Aid and Loans
Higher Education Studies
So, here’s a sorta cynical question: do we have anybody working on how we can look good in these ratings? Or at least anticipating how we will look? Or, less cynically, can we have a conversation about the relative importance of these outcomes (and others) to us and to our students? And what do we think that the logic of outcomes, rankings, and accountability? Should we just put our faith in tradition? Or should we tolerate bad measurements rather than wasting valuable time coming up with sound ones?
The latest swing of the MOOC headline pendulum is way over on the “complete bust” end of the evaluation spectrum but they represent a very big solution in search of a problem and as such are not likely to disappear as fast as they emerged.
I stand by most of the points I made in my 2012 talk on MOOCs and small liberal arts colleges. The main one was that we should we should avoid the urge to imitate and compete but embrace the opportunity to borrow and adapt the tools being developed in connection with MOOCs.
In today’s NYT we read about several high-profile flops in MOOC-land and evaluation research that suggests that MOOCs so far have been reaching “already educated” folks rather than those without access to higher education, undermining one of their primary public selling points. I would caution against over-embracing: as I said in the 2012 talk, the bandwagon is a hand-basket.
Other recent MOOC-related articles in the NYT…
Rankings that privilege affordability and “return on investment” are becoming more common. They tend to look very different from more conventional lists. It becomes problematic if one falls into the false dichotomy trap: either you care about ROI or you care about “intellectual, social and civic value of education.” One advantage of a liberal arts education is that it teaches you “both/and” as well as “either/or” thinking. We need to recognize that paying attention to cost and career value does not mean abandoning other education fundamentals.
From The New York Times
By ARIEL KAMINER
Published: October 27, 2013
Looking out over the quadrangle before him as students dashed from one class to the next, James Muyskens was feeling proud one recent afternoon, and why not?
The college he had led for the past 11 years had just been awarded second place in a new ranking of American higher education — ahead of flagship state universities, ahead of elite liberal arts colleges, even ahead of all eight Ivy League universities.
The college is Queens College, a part of the City University of New York with an annual tuition of $5,730, and a view of the Long Island Expressway.
Catering to working-class students, more than half of whom were born in other countries, Queens does not typically find itself at the top of national rankings. Then again, this was not a typical ranking. It was a list of colleges that offer the “best bang for the buck.”
“Elation,” said Dr. Muyskens, recalling his delight when he learned of the honor. “Thrilled!”
Purists might regard such bottom-line calculations as an insult to the intellectual, social and civic value of education. But dollars-and-cents tabulations like that one (which was compiled by Washington Monthly), are the fastest-growing sector of the college rankings industry, with ever more analyses vying for the attention of high school students and their parents who are anxious about finances.
PayScale.com ranks over 1000 institutions in terms of what their graduates earn and what kinds of jobs they get.
COMMON SENSENew Metric for Colleges: Graduates’ SalariesBy JAMES B. STEWARTPublished: September 13, 2013
U.S. News & World Report released its eagerly anticipated annual rankings of universities and colleges this week, and two of the usual suspects — Princeton University and Williams College — came out on top. Prospective students and their parents can evaluate these institutions on a variety of measures deemed important by U.S. News.
What they won’t find is any way to assess what some consider the most important issue in this still-tough economy: How much can graduates of these schools expect to earn?