Friday, April 15, 2011

Losing Their Way

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While higher education policy analysts do write about higher education finance issues, I have noticed a problematic trend, and that is a shift toward discussing curriculum and the intellectual value of higher education. I am not suggesting that such discussions are irrelevant (on the contrary), but I still find it rather puzzling. That is because the Department of Education was specifically designed to tend to the financing of higher education. It does not operate, for instance, like the Department of Ministry in France. The Department does not have a say in how or what students should be learning, so the more pressing issue should be how it helps (or hurts) the financing of higher education. That topic should be the first priority for analysts in the field. All these debates about the value of attending college, the design of departmental curriculum, and so forth detract from the real issues - the financial ones - that prospective, current, and former students must or do face. Moreover, what should be of particular importance is the dramatic increase in student loan defaulters. The problem is not going away, and it is high time that analysts and policymakers turned their attention to the student loan debt crisis and coming up with viable and immediate solutions for defaulters.

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