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What To Change?

It is very difficult to answer to the question—What’s one thing you’d change about higher education right now?—for a myriad of reasons.

For example, if I said the top-down style of executive level leadership, then I would be fighting traditions dating back to 1140 AD. If I said lack of efficiency, then I would be fighting proponents of effectiveness. If I said lack of innovation, then I would be directed to the IT departments and offices which only respond to technological change when senior leadership tells them to change.

Having mentioned the above aspects of higher education, there is a lot to say to the value higher education provides to society, namely: an environment for critical thinking, open debates, and most importantly, a legal instrument—the diploma—that allows the individual who earns a degree to scale professional barriers in society.

What aspect of higher education frustrates me the most right now? I would have to say public higher education. However, public higher education is already undergoing transformational change throughout the world given the giant growth of proprietary and technical schools, and the lack of public funding to continue massive growth without proper accountability.

Regrettably, the consequences of this reality will leave most students who attend public higher education without an option as they will NOT be able to afford attending for-profit higher educational institutions. Yes, Harvard and MIT offset this argument by providing tuition-free courses for students—onsite or online—but then again, that is only two of 7,500 universities worldwide without counting those institutions providing free courses without the benefit of an earned degree.

So, is higher education a human right? I totally support the notion but honestly, K-12 is NOT a right as yet in many parts of the world. Therefore, how can anyone argue that you reach the top of the ladder or build the roof to a house without taking first steps in building a strong foundation?

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