The big higher education news of the week was centered around President Obama’s unveiling of a plan to rate colleges and universities on the value they provide students. But there was plenty of other higher ed news and commentary this week worth sharing.
- Community colleges moving up. Look out, baccalaureate-granting institutions. You’ve got some new competitors. USA Today reports on the growing national trend of two-year campuses offering four-year degrees.
- A degree should be free. So says Robert Samuels, president of the University Council-American Federation of Teachers, in a Q&A with the Newark Star-Ledger. “We’re already spending enough money to make all public higher education free,” says Samuels. “If you take the total we spend on federal grants, student loans and state grants, and the money the colleges themselves spend on aid and the tax breaks we give higher education, we already have enough money in the system to spend not only on higher education, but also living expenses.” Incidentally, Samuels also has a book out called Why Public Higher Education Should Be Free.
- All digitized libraries, all in one place. The Digital Public Library of America launched a few months ago with the goal of creating a place to house all of the digital versions of historic treasures from the nation’s libraries — those disintegrating letters, old photos and other documents. This NPR story discusses the DPLA’s efforts, the story behind the launch, and its effort to go up against Google in the race to digitize documents.
- Tuition is dropping at for-profit colleges. Earlier this week, The Quick and the Ed shared some interesting data about the cost of tuition at for-profit schools. Analyzing data from the Digest of Education Statistics, The Quick and the Ed’s Andrew Gillen plots the rise and fall of tuition, adjusted for inflation, and suggests possible reasons for the change. “If individual colleges are cutting tuition, this is an indication that it is possible for colleges to adapt to a new competitive environment when the need arises. But if this is being driven by students shunning the more expensive for-profits, this could be a dangerous indication that even for-profits, which are less encumbered by academic traditions like tenure, find it difficult to adapt.”
- Not ready for college. The ACT’s yearly report. The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013, was released on Tuesday, and it shows that just 39 percent of ACT-tested 2013 graduates met three or more of the four benchmarks in English, reading, math and science. More details from the report in this story.
Bonus link: If you haven’t seen this Georgia Tech sophomore’s convocation speech to the freshman class yet, take two minutes to watch, then ponder how many institutions will mix things up a bit for next year’s convocation.