With the economy stuck in neutral, tuition prices and student loan debt skyrocketing, and parents and students increasingly questioning the value of a college degree, our public institutions urgently need a different approach to the challenge or educating an increasingly diverse mix of students at a reasonable cost. Today, New America's Education Policy Program released The Next Generation University, a policy report about the future of public higher education. The report comes at a time when too many public universities are failing to respond to the nation's higher education crisis. Rather than expanding enrollment and focusing limited dollars on the neediest of students, many institutions are instead restricting enrollments and encouraging the use of student-aid dollars on merit awards. But, according to the report, some schools are breaking the mold by boldly restructuring operating costs and creating clear, accelerated pathways for students.
The report focuses on six public research universities: Arizona State University, University at Buffalo, University of California at Riverside, University of Central Florida, Georgia State University, and the University of Texas at Arlington. These universities are continuing their commitment to world class research while increasing enrollment and graduation rates, even as the investments from their states have declined.
The report includes case studies on each of the six universities, which were selected after an analysis of federal education data, site visits, and interviews. Based on similarities in their approaches to reform, the report's recommendations include:
At the Institutional Level
- Increase size to ensure broad access, test new ideas from pedagogy to student services, and serve growing populations.
- Create direct connections between two- and four-year colleges to ease access for transfer students.
At the State Level
- Guarantee a low net-price for low-income students.
- Adopt performance-based funding.
- Create transfer policies that encourage completion.
- Ensure students in the K-12 pipeline are prepared.
At the National Level
- Develop Next Generation Leaders for Next Generation Universities.
- Acknowledge that external recognition remains important in higher education, and provide recognition for increasing access and student success.
- Create a demonstration program that challenges four-year public higher education institutions to innovate.
These recommendation and lessons will be featured at an event held at the New America Foundation from 10am to 3pm. You can learn more about the event and watch a livestream here. Follow the conversation on twitter using #NextGenU.
Download the full report here.
In addition to the report, New America has released two related issue briefs:
In "Technology and the Next Generation University," New America's Rachel Fishman explores the barriers to technology-enhanced education and presents promising practices Next Generation Universities employ to overcome them.
In "Formation of the Next Generation University: Role of State and System Policy," HCM Strategists' Iris Palmer, Kristin Conklin, and Nate Johnson explore how transfer policy, financial aid, net price, performance funding and the K-12 pipeline affect Next Generation Universities within their state context. It makes recommendations for state and higher-education system policymakers on how to ensure public institutions are meeting the needs of the state.
HCM Strategists, in conjunction with the release of The Next Generation University has developed a new interactive tool:
Next Generation Universities: Select Dimensions of Research University Output, Productivity and Efficiency 2006-2011
This dashboard, created by HCM Strategists and Postsecondary Analytics, includes a selection of measures of public research university performance through the great recession, showing how they have fared over time and in comparison to the sector as a whole. It helps illustrate the very different ways research universities have experienced and responded to the challenges of the last several years, and which institutions have been able to sustain or grow the number of students served in spite of the financial challenges they faced.
Please note that the dashboard is a large file (2.5 mb) and may take up to a minute to load. It requires Adobe Flash, which is already installed in most browsers.
Also released at the event are two conference papers from the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University: 1) More Students, More Degrees, More Dollars: How Universities Can Close Budget Gaps while Benefiting Students; and 2) The High Price of Excess Credits: How New Approaches Could Help Students and Schools.