Americans aren’t happy with the state of higher education. A recent poll found that just 25 percent of Americans said the system “is fine how it is.”
One conservative scholar is offering ways to repair the broken higher education system. In an essay published at The Federalist, Peter Wood lays out “how to stop complaining and start fixing America’s higher education crisis.”
Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, notes conservatives and progressives alike bemoan the state of higher education. Their complaints range from the cost to the curriculum.
Wood addresses these concerns by offering solutions. He tackles the financial concerns by suggesting that higher education “fix” its financial model and that federal loans be restructured:
Reduce and restructure federal and state support for colleges and universities. Eliminate the regulations that favor the guild and prop up oligarchy. Unleash the marketplace, including for-profit, online, and other entrepreneurial alternatives to the dominant model of two and four-year colleges. Steer Americans away from the idea that a college degree is necessary for a prosperous career. Find new and better ways to credential people as competent in specific endeavors. The general-purpose undergraduate degree should face competition from alternative credentialing.
On curriculum, Wood writes repairs to higher education should “dismantle the infrastructure of campus illiberalism” and “restore a meaningful core curriculum”:
Eliminate grievance deans and programs; rescind all government programs that subsidize identity politics; insist that colleges and universities punish those who disrupt events or otherwise undermine free expression. Some call for eliminating tenure because it has become a bulwark for the faculty members most intent on redirecting higher education into political activism.
Wood also throws in a fifth suggestion: fix college governance structures. This is a critical topic, Wood writes, because college leaders act as the gatekeepers for changes and any significant repairs to the higher education system would likely go through them:
Repairing governance structures will be difficult, but without this most other repairs will also fail because they will be successfully opposed from within the institutions. The basic repair needed is to create a high wall between the college president and the trustees that permits the trustees to demand information from the president, but keeps the president from artfully controlling the trustees.
Wood writes his suggestions are a “simplified list,” but adds they can “help frame an answer to how much it would cost to fix our $532 billion system of higher education.”
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