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Obama talks costs with university presidents

President Obama met with the presidents of several universities at the White House yesterday. The group discussed solutions for improving the availability and affordability of higher education to U.S. students. From Inside Higher Ed:

In general, Obama and the college leaders focused on a few key questions: how colleges can become more affordable while producing more graduates, and how new efforts in affordability or productivity can be “scaled up” from one college to large state systems or the nation as a whole.

“There were a lot of ideas,” said Jane Wellman, founder and executive director of the Delta Project on Postsecondary Costs, Productivity and Accountability. “It’s clear that they’re asking and thinking about how we connect the issue to strategies in a way that makes this coherent and substantive.”

The meeting’s tone was cooperative, not confrontational, college presidents said. Obama appeared to be knowledgeable about the issues, interested in solutions and disinclined to lecture the higher education leaders about tuition prices (tempting as that often is for many politicians). The focus of the meeting was on college costs (the total cost of educating students) rather than college prices (what students pay), said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation for Education. Increasing the number of Americans with college degrees, which Obama has described as a key goal for the country, requires decreasing the cost of educating students, given limited public and other resources, Merisotis added.

A list of presidents included in the discussion can be found here.

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