College Presidents to Obama: Your Higher Education Plan Won’t Work

College Presidents to Obama: Your Higher Education Plan Won’t Work

Thanks to a poll by Gallup and insight from Inside Higher Ed, we learned this week that a significant number of American college and university presidents are doubtful that President Barack Obama’s plan to lower the cost of higher education while increasing quality will accomplish its goals.

The basis of the President’s plan is to tie federal grant dollars to a new rating system for colleges that will evaluate a school’s overall performance by looking at graduation rates, graduate earnings, affordability and a few other factors.

The more high-performing a university is, according to the ranking, the more federal student aid goes to students at that school. The plan, announced in August, called for input from universities about innovative ways to make improvements like further developing competency-based education programs.

According to the polls the response from universities was mostly negative: Only 2 percent of college presidents surveyed said the proposed plan will be “very effective” at making higher education affordable, while 42 percent said the new rankings will be “not very effective.” Half of them thought the plan would not have a positive affect on their universities.

Critics told Inside Higher Ed they thought the problem is potentially rewarding the already well-funded high-performing schools, and measures based on graduates’ income levels would unfairly penalize liberal arts colleges.

Meanwhile plan proponent, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, told Inside Higher Ed that the federal government should be able to “demand a focus on student outcomes” based on the $150 billion in federal aid it spends each year.

So what do you think? Will the president’s plan will accomplish its goals, or will it do more harm to students – and universities – than good? Share your thoughts. 

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