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Calls for a Redesign of Higher Education

On Tuesday, Gallup Inc released a report titled, “America’s Call for Higher Education Redesign”. The report, interviewing over 1,000 Americans, finds that while U.S. citizens understand and accept the importance of higher education in finding meaningful work and improving individual financial stability, they lack confidence in the current system.

Various higher education policy leaders say that the survey results may encourage administrators and policymakers to reflect on the current system and consider altering processes and practices to reinvent and improve it. They also said the current notion of who students are, how they learn, the way they are assessed and why they choose to enroll are outdated, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“We have refused to allow ourselves to think creatively and act creatively about what college can be for today’s students,” Michelle Asha Cooper, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, told The Chronicle of Higher Education. “The model that we’re using is a model that is based in a traditional notion of higher education, and now, when we look at today’s student body, over 75 percent of the student body is nontraditional.”

Cooper went on to explain that more emphasis will need to be placed on meeting the needs of adult students for the redesign to be successful.

As an example, Paul J. LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, suggested eliminating the credit-hour system and transitioning to a competency-based education model. This model allows for students to earn credits for the demonstration of competencies in assessment, rather than for the time they are in a class.

Jamie P. Merisotis, the president and chief executive officer of the Lumina Foundation, said this transformation is a necessity given the demands on the higher education system.

“We’ve got to think about how to create more opportunities for a large number of people at a very high-quality level,” Merisotis told The Chronicle of Higher Education. “Because that’s what society demands.”