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Shifts in the demographic make-up of higher education’s customer base are also fueling reform efforts.
The full-time student fresh out of high school who is still financially dependent on his or her parents – the profile around which traditional higher education models have been built – no longer dominates the population of people enrolling in higher education. To accommodate the expanding variety of students, there have been increasing demands for new pathways to degrees.
Subscribers to the school of thought that a college degree is primarily a means to employment have begun ratcheting up their calls for a system that is more responsive to workforce needs.
Michael Bettersworth, an associate vice chancellor at the Texas State Technical College System, recently said, “Houston, we have a problem, and it’s not that too few people are going to college.
produces widgets.” He went on to forecast “that the struggle for excellence in higher education over the next decades will be a struggle against the widget theory in higher education and against those who knowingly or unknowingly espouse it.” As Flawn’s remarks illustrate, some of the themes in today’s battles over reforming higher education echo decades-old debates.
Still, even as many proposals have been met with resistance from higher education leaders, there also has been a growing agreement that current structures — both on the institutional and classroom levels — could be more efficient at moving students through the postsecondary pipeline at an improved rate with satisfactory levels of learning.
Fraternity misbehavior has frustrated colleges as long as fraternities have been around.
But now, amid worries about endemic binge drinking, sexual assault and a startling spate of deaths, schools are going beyond the old practice of shutting down individual houses to imposing broad restrictions on all Greek life.
EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat.