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The disagreements between business executives and educators are sometimes wide-ranging.
From the perspective of business people, higher education should be more efficient
and financially accountable, more focused on what the students really need to learn,
and more mindful of the need to cut costs and charge students more before asking
for more subsidies from the public till. They also want higher education to be less
preoccupied with issues of race, and more focused on teaching. Higher education professionals,
for their part, see the universities as serving a different mission, and vigorously
object to the idea that higher education should be judged by the standards of efficiency
and responsiveness to the needs of business.
Rough Sailing Ahead?
If these disputes remain unresolved, higher education will certainly face severe
problems as it tries to navigate a future that nearly everyone agrees will be difficult.
Clearly, higher education is going to be dependent on the support of the larger community,
and it is not clear how forthcoming that support will be if a group as important
as the business community continues to harbor deep doubts about such basic questions
as how well higher education is administered or how effectively it performs its teaching
The Real Bar to Access: Poor Academic Preparation
These disagreements, as important as they may be, have to be contextualized by the
larger framework of commonality. None of the disagreements undermine the shared assumption
of the importance of maintaining a strong higher education system and of insuring
that qualified students have access to it. And for all of their disagreements, the
leaders we interviewed agree with each other on the major problem that faces higher
education -- the lack of preparation of the students who enter our higher education
system. What the leaders seem to be saying is that higher education cannot do the
job alone; we cannot hope to produce an educated society without finding a way to
produce larger numbers of students who are sufficiently prepared and motivated to
take advantage of the world's finest system of higher education.
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© 1999 The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education