British Debates Over Higher Ed Sound Familiar

September 22, 2009

An American college administrator who happened to pick up a daily newspaper in Britain on Monday could have been forgiven for doing a double take to see whether he or she was back home. The British press was filled with news likely to resonate with anyone who has been following policy discussions about higher education in the U.S. in recent months. First, a group of business leaders published a report Monday arguing that, because of the economic downturn, the British government should temporarily abandon its goal of trying to enroll at least 50 percent of the country's 18-30-year-olds in higher education -- a goal much like the one President Obama has set for the U.S. The report, by the higher education task force of the Conferation of British Industry, also recommends that the government end its subsidy on student loans while students are in school, which is similar to a proposal made last year by a panel of student aid experts convened by the College Board. On Sunday, meanwhile, the Times of London reported that some British universities are planning to cut the number of British citizens they admit and replace them with students from other countries who pay higher tuitions -- not unlike a strategy that many state institutions in the United States typically undertake when short on funds.

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