Northeastern Releases Survey on Attitude Towards Higher Education
NEC member Northeastern University recently released the results of a nation survey on attitudes toward higher education at an event in Washington, DC. Titled, “Innovation Imperative: Enhancing Higher Education Outcomes,” the event explored the shifting landscape of higher education and the potential for innovation driven improvements. Northeastern President Joseph Aoun described the changes as a transition from a “teacher-centered approach to a learner-centered approach” that presents not only challenges but also plentiful “opportunities for innovation and experimentation.”
Northeastern’s survey showed that 62 percent of Americans believe the higher education system is only doing a fair to poor job of preparing graduates and that 70 percent of Americans believe a college degree will be even more important to the next generation. The survey also found that nearly two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) and almost three-quarters of hiring decision-makers (73 percent) believe that being well-rounded with a range of knowledge is more important than possessing industry-specific skills. Following a presentation on the finding’s of Northeastern’s survey, a panel of experts discussed the findings. Panelists included Mitch Daniels, President of Purdue University and former Governor of Indiana; James Kvaal, deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council; Jeffery Wilcox, vice president for engineering at Lockheed Martin Corporation; and Deborah Wince-Smith, president and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness. Catherine Rampell of the New York Times moderated the discussion.. The panelists offered numerous solutions and suggestions to improve higher education and improve outcomes. Mr. Wilcox discussed the miscommunication between higher education institutions and industry. He suggested that both would benefit if a “higher percentage of industry representatives became part of university and college faculty” and had the opportunity to share their insights and change the institutional culture. Ms. Wince-Smith criticized the education world for its propensity to call for innovation in other sectors but to take a “hands off” approach to their own. Mr. Daniels discussed the importance of education as a public good and called for a return to states prioritizing education funding by noting that colleges have gone from “state funded to state supported to state located.” On the issue of cost, Mr. Kvaal touted the Obama administration’s desire to create college scorecards that show the value of attending the institution based on measurable outcomes such as graduation rates, affordability, and earning potential.
The New England Council commends Northeastern University for conducting this valuable research and elevating the discussion on how we can improve education and better prepare students to join the workforce.