Office of the President
Call for public conversation on higher education's future
Expensive. Time-consuming. Unnecessary.
The criticisms of a college education often ring more loudly in the media than the incalculable benefits. For too long, these warning signs have been ignored. But now is a truth-serum moment. Cost and access are major national challenges that we must address.
Higher education leaders are not oblivious to this call. Last year, we created a national Commission on Higher Education Attainment to provide a forum for leaders of American colleges and universities to develop a constructive approach to these issues. Representatives from every sector of higher education—from small liberal arts colleges to community colleges to large research institutions—are asking this central question: How can we give more people access to a high-quality education and ensure that students graduate with a college degree?
One thing we know for certain: There will be no magic bullet. No one-size-fits-all approach. At Ohio State, for example, we are easing the financial burden on students and families by pioneering new ways to fund our academic mission sustainably into the future. Our aim is to offer a high-quality degree that continues to be among the best educational values of any university in the country.
Knowing that student debt is among our leading national challenges, Ohio State is focusing resources there. Just last week, our Board of Trustees approved an additional $50 million for student financial aid and scholarships—that is on top of the $100 million the University already awards annually. The infusion of funds will not only help attract the best and brightest students, but also will allow the University to increase our current need-based aid and help an additional 1,300 students each year to achieve the dream of a college degree.
This is just one of the myriad strategies needed to solve our national challenge.
The Commission, which I am honored to chair, sets the stage for higher education leaders to roll up their sleeves and bring forth new insights and workable ideas. But finding a complete solution will require more. So I want to use this opportunity to begin a broad public conversation, seeking the input of students, parents, alumni, community members, and local business leaders.
Tell me your ideas. Share them on social media. If you use Twitter, tweet them with the hashtag #HigherEdFuture. I am eager to hear what you have to say, and I look forward to a diverse, vibrant discussion in which every idea—big or small—is on the table.
We all have a stake in the outcome.