American Higher Education in the Global Context
Renu Khator, Provost, University of South Florida
; More than 4,200 institutions of higher education teaching 80% of the 17 million
; Higher education in America is “public” however, public support for it has
sharply declined over the decades. Example:
o Twenty years ago, 67% of USF’s budget came from the state; only 24%
; College degree used to be a “common good,” where the assumption was that a
graduate is an asset to the society and thus the cost was borne by the public.
Today, the prevailing paradigm is that a college degree is a “private good,” and
the assumption is that a degree produces benefits to the holder of the degree and
thus the cost for acquiring it should be borne by the beneficiary.
American Higher Education Reality:
1. Cost of tuition has increased more than the cost of inflation.
2. Funds are spent in other areas – universities are spending $1 billion annually in
3. Less than 10% of those in the bottom socio-economic quartile are graduating from
college. Financial barriers have become significant.
1. In comparison to other countries, a smaller percentage of American students
finish High School and even a much smaller percentage complete college degree. 2. Access is denied to minorities – a much smaller percentage of Hispanics, African
Americans and Native American students complete college.
3. The number of students graduating in science and engineering are flat over
decades, while the total number of graduates has increased. American
universities are not producing enough scientists and engineers to meet the need of
the American society, let alone the need of the global economy. 4. The pipeline is leaky!
1. Fiscal and academic accountability are in question
2. Public is demanding proof of learning – show me! th3. America stands 9 in higher education attainment th4. 16 in high school graduation rate thth5. By the end of 8 grade, American students are 15 among industrialized nations; thby the end of 12 grade, they are at the bottom of the barrel in terms of education
6. 70% of middle school math teachers do not have formal math training!
7. According to the National Assessment of Education Process, only 17% of
graduating high school seniors have math proficiency and 36% have English
proficiency. Two years ago, out of 1.2 million Act test takers, only 22% were
prepared for college level math, science and English.
8. Gap in expectation is deep – 44% of college faculty say that freshmen are not
prepared for college level writing, while 90% of high school teachers think that
; Demographics in America is changing – America is becoming more diverse in its
population and cannot afford to have a leaky pipeline for ethnic minorities
; Worldwide need for higher education is growing – 90% of the fastest growing
jobs require post-secondary education
; Other countries are investing more in higher education and opening their own
; Many global sectors (entire countries, rural poor, women) are denied access to
higher education, which means that they are marginalized in the global economy.
Even though, these sectors may not live on American soil, the impact of unrest
and conflict affects America and Americans
The Bottom Line
Higher education must change – we can either change it ourselves or we can wait till external forces changes it for us.
; Higher education will become more global in access and content.
; It will become more flexible – 90 million adult learners want access to
universities and colleges
; It will become more technology-driven because people are more mobile.
; It will become more interdisciplinary because problems do not honor disciplinary
; It will become more pervasive – will tackle, for instance, k-12 system.
; It will become more innovation-oriented.
3 pillars will be: Innovation, Interdisciplinary, and International/global