Web Extra: Commission member uses solar system to discuss higher education’s future

Web Extra: Commission member uses solar system to discuss higher education’s future

By Cindy Retamazo

A member of the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education spoke last Thursday at the Alumni Center on what the future holds for postsecondary education. Although government funding is going more toward the older generations, colleges are beginning to give out more need based scholarships than those based on merit, James Deduerstadt said.

At the turn of the 20th century, the federal governmentshifted its focus toward an aging baby boom population and its needs, like health care and retirement, rather than on youth issues like education, Duderstadt said.

He also said while America as a “nation of immigrants” adds vitality to the country, educators may hinder in providing social equity to all by separating the different races. In addition, the growing technology will change how education is taught and organized.

Using the term “higher education solar system” to describe the numerous issues involved in postsecondary learning, Duderstadt said it begins at the “100,000-foot level,” where economics, an increasingly diverse population and advancing technology come into play.

At the “L1 Point,” which is exponentially further than the “100,000-foot level”, demographics, globalization and once again technology play key roles, he said. Over the next decade, the U.S. population older than age 60 will grow to at least 30 percent of the total population, placing priorities on the needs of the older generation.

Meanwhile, technology, mainly the internet, creates globalization which will lead to the establishment of global universities that will emphasize worldwide issues like poverty and health, he said.

Duderstadt said to prepare, universities must go back to the “100,000-foot level.” He suggested sticking to key values, like universities staying focused on education, not on keeping up reputation.

After his speech Duderstadt answered questions, including what he feels the future holds for the cost of postsecondary education.

He said in recent years, scholarships have been given based in a sense on socioeconomic status rather than based on financial need. For example, a student from a wealthy family who can afford to attend a reputable high school would have a much higher chance of entering a college with a merit scholarship compared to a student from a low income family who attends an inner city school.

Duderstadt said local governments and colleges are beginning to shift more focus on giving need-based grants so students of all backgrounds have the chance to further their education.

Students said they enjoyed Duderstadt’s insight on where higher education is headed.

“I liked how he talked about changing technology disparity,” saidsenior political science and international affairs major Suzan El-Rayess, referring to a technology gap between generations.

The importance of diversity in expanding education was senior political science major Rasha Mortada’s favorite part.

“I really liked how he talked about diversity and how exposure to different cultures will make the future of education more worldly,” Mortada said.

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