American higher education, long the envy of the world, faces such serious problems -- especially with graduation rates -- that its position is vulnerable, says a report being released today.
The report calls for the creation of new accountability systems in higher education to track problems and progress, and to help lawmakers focus necessary attention on weaknesses. At the same time, the report says that many current accountability systems do little good and end up wasting time and money.
Colleges have become "dramatically more market-oriented," and risk sacrificing important values to the quest for money, warns a report issued Thursday.
"Many academic leaders feel compelled to chase revenues and rankings rather than to focus their efforts on providing a high-quality education," says the report, "Correcting Course: How We Can Restore the Ideals of Public Higher Education in a Market-Driven Era," issued by the Futures Project, a higher education research group based at Brown University.
Colleges need to accept that the "social compact" between higher education and government that led to a century of growth for American higher education is dead and will not return, Larry R. Faulkner said Sunday.
Faulkner, president of the University of Texas at Austin, delivered that message to hundreds of college presidents gathered in Washington for the annual meeting of the American Council on Education. Bemoaning the death of the compact is not of itself earth-shattering -- academics have been complaining along those lines for some time.
After a week of lobbying failed to win over skeptical lawmakers, the University of Maine System on Friday postponed a plan to fold the University of Maine at Augusta into the University of Southern Maine. In exchange, the merger's leading opponents in the legislature said they would let the system carry out the rest of its strategic plan.