Academics

Is Higher Education Broken? Reform, Disruption, or . . . ?

By Catherine Probst and Colleen Kearney Rich

Does higher education have a future? If so, what will it look like?

The problems facing higher education in the United States are receiving increased scrutiny these days from parents, students, academics, and many others. Media coverage on higher education’s future seems virtually inescapable, from Newsweek’s recent cover story, “Is College a Lousy Investment?” to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s series on “College, Reinvented.” According to the Chronicle’s recent edition, “It’s not just experts, lawmakers, and disgruntled academics who see problems in the industry. Now parents, students, employers, and pundits say higher education is fundamentally broken: ineffective, overpriced, outdated, out of touch.”

Mason President Ángel Cabera opened the Forum on the Future of Higher Education with welcoming remarks. Photo by Alexis Glenn.

George Mason University is taking these questions head-on this weekend, as it hosts educators, university administrators, and practitioners for the “Forum on the Future of Higher Education.” More than 350 faculty members and administrators, many from Mason, are attending. They will be considering the challenges of how to deliver education in a more cost efficient manner while also being creative and innovative in improving its quality. The forum will feature discussions on topics such as more effective teaching and better learning outcomes; lessons to be learned from for-profits and online programs; additional opportunities for uses of technology; and how to effect change in large public universities.

“As both an exciting and challenging time for higher education, a key theme of the forum is what we can do to improve learning, how we can respond to the evolving needs and lifestyles of students, and how we can adapt to increasingly tight budgets,” says Mason President Ángel Cabrera. “This forum will provide an opportunity for us to engage in critical conversations that will lead us toward a new vision and strategic plan for the university.”

Panelists include Mason faculty, as well as other distinguished speakers including members of the media, higher education, and education-related businesses and associations. The speakers include Anya Kamenetz, author of DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education; Jeffrey Selingo, editor-at-large of the Chronicle of Higher Education; and Alexander McCormick, director of the National Survey of Student Engagement.

More than 350 people–many are Mason faculty and administrators–are participating the Forum on the Future of Higher Education on the university’s Fairfax Campus. Photo by Alexis Glenn.

“As we consider the future of higher education, the forum will provide an opportunity for practitioners and administrators at all levels to discuss some of the most important issues we are facing in the field,” says Mason Provost Peter Stearns. “The forum is intended to open the door for discussion of new ideas on how to prepare for future planning in higher education, but not offer a precise agenda for change.”

After the forum, videos of the panels will be available online. In addition, the use of social media is being encouraged during the forum. Planners believe live tweeting during the panels and keynotes expands the discussion beyond those in the room, encourages questions and conversations both during and after the forum, and will help to preserve the insights of the forum in a digital archive. Moderators will be watching the feed and reporting on trends.

For more information about the forum, a complete schedule of events, and a link to the videos, visit the website.

GeorgeMasonU
@GeorgeMasonU:
@bpullias check it out here: http://t.co/RHYy2awiDy the #masonfuture hashtag was archived using it.
16 months ago from HootSuite
sppitt
@sppitt:
Student aid offered for competency...a driving force for change in higher ed.... http://t.co/ptTOYV1MPP #masonfuture #ctch603
17 months ago from web
eRomanMe
@eRomanMe:
Advanced faculty wrangling techniques. http://t.co/tJ3saXOKWd (Chronicle, restriced acceess, via T. Harvey). #masonfuture #masonpresent
18 months ago from TweetDeck
eRomanMe
@eRomanMe:
Don’t Judge a College’s Value by Graduates’ Paycheck. http://t.co/1OV2m0V3Jo via JLeeman. #masonfuture
18 months ago from web
Bethany_Usher
@Bethany_Usher:
#Masonfuture alludes to translational research (not so sure about "of consequence"). For context- what NIH is doing. http://t.co/rA7TmrMtwO
18 months ago from Twitter for Mac
eRomanMe
@eRomanMe:
RT @sarahbkr: Comments. No mention of multilingualism. Need more discussion of what it means to be global. #masonfuture
18 months ago from TweetDeck
CabreraAngel
@CabreraAngel:
RT @eRomanMe: Sin libertad no puedes aprender. Y tienes que aprender constantemente si quieres ser libre--@cabreraangel #masonfuture
18 months ago from web
eRomanMe
@eRomanMe:
"The next level will be how we build a strategic plan&policiy. This is just the 1st step 2get the picture right"-@CabreraAngel #masonfuture
18 months ago from TweetDeck
sarahbkr
@sarahbkr:
@CabreraAngel Vision docs need to be aspirational, inspirational, but also concrete. #masonfuture
18 months ago from Twitter for iPhone
eRomanMe
@eRomanMe:
"These statements are big statements. We are taking stand on some issues."-@cabreraangel #masonfuture
18 months ago from TweetDeck
sarahbkr
@sarahbkr:
@CabreraAngel responds. Productivity 4-letter word in academia. #masonfuture
18 months ago from Twitter for iPhone
sarahbkr
@sarahbkr:
@CabreraAngel responds. Tension b/w affordability, better fac pay, research needs. Will need to look at productivity. #masonfuture
18 months ago from Twitter for iPhone
eRomanMe
@eRomanMe:
And please do not forget IMMIGRATION reform, and how that is going to affect #masonfuture @cabreraangel
18 months ago from TweetDeck
sarahbkr
@sarahbkr:
@CabreraAngel responds: likes nod to Mason the man translating ideas to document. Comm skills should figure more in docs. #masonfuture
18 months ago from Twitter for iPhone