Dr. Lynn Pasquerella, president of the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) authored an article for the September 2019 Harvard Business Review touting the merits of liberal arts degrees. AAC&U represents institutions committed to the value of liberal arts programs. In fact, APUS is a member and recognized by its accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission as a liberal arts institution.
Dr. Pasquerella notes that “it’s no secret that American higher education is under siege” and adds that politicians have fueled this dynamic by proposing legislation that would base funding on students’ employment after graduation and requiring institutions to amend mission statements citing such aspirations as “search for truth,” “public service,” and “improving the human condition.” She adds that the “achieve the American Dream” vision has been decoupled from higher education, keeping many individuals from recognizing that colleges and universities still contribute substantially toward societal and institutional transformation.
Among the many panaceas touted by policymakers to improve graduation rates of adult students, Competency-Based Education (CBE) may be the innovation most often cited but not yet widely adopted. Eduventures’ new study, “State of the Field, Findings from the 2018 National Survey of Postsecondary CBE,” includes responses from leaders at 500 schools with existing CBE programs or future plans to add them. With approximately 5,300 postsecondary institutions in the U.S., that number represents slightly less than 10% of all providers.
Among the study’s findings:
- 50% of institutions with CBE programs enroll less than 50 students. Schools were asked what factors either helped the growth of their programs or hindered their growth and the top responses for undergraduate programs were: demand from students, CBE program start-up costs, evidence about CBE programs’ potential to reduce cost for students, and Federal Student Aid regulations and processes.
- Of these four top responses, program start-up costs and FSA regulations skewed negatively (hindering) and demand from students and evidence about CBE program potential to reduce costs skewed positively (helping).
- Despite the current low enrollment for many schools, more than 75% of all respondents believe that CBE will grow significantly over the next five years.
When I first joined APUS, conferences were an easy way to get up to speed on many issues. Similar to other industries, there are many different higher ed conferences whose agendas reflect member needs. There are events for college presidents, financial officers, enrollment management and student services staff, academic advisors, accreditation leaders, chief academic officers, faculty, etc. Over time, I’ve reduced my conference schedule as I feel more comfortable with the relevant issues in a given area.
One conference I consistently attend is the Higher Education Leadership Conference at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE). The event is unique in that only graduates of Penn’s Executive Doctorate in Higher Education program are invited. Alumni organize the agenda to address some of the current issues in higher education. Because graduates are administrators at colleges and universities (including more than 50 college and university presidents), the dialogue between speakers, panelists, and participants is as stimulating as the presentations.
APUS Associate Dean of Alternative Learning Cali Morrison and APUS Provost Dr. Vernon Smith were each recently appointed to new leadership positions with the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), one of the leading authorities on the practice, policy, and advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. Cali recently sat down with Dr. Smith to discuss the value of APUS's long-standing relationship with WCET and their respective new advisory roles.