National College Group Prez Urges Valuing Quality Over Costs

The number of students considering a three-year college degree continues to rise, along with tuition prices and a rush by some students and families to get into the money-making world.

But just as colleges and universities feel  pressure to reduce the time it takes to earn a degree, Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, suggests the trend toward three-year college degrees can “shortchange” students.

Schneider released a statement urging college, universities and high schools to institute accelerated programs rather than shave a year off of a college-level education.

The statement, “The Three-Year Degree Is No Silver Bullet” notes that “the three-year option is not a universal panacea for increasing completion or for reducing costs” and urges policymakers and leaders in education and philanthropy to “begin any discussion about the scope  of a college degree—and the length of time recommended for most students to complete the degree—with the broader question of the learning students actually need to succeed and a realistic assessment of current students’ educational abilities and preparation.”

Schneider made the statement as attention grows toward cost-cutting in the field of higher education. “The amount of wishful thinking driving this three-year degree discussion is stunning to me,” Schneider said. “It’s time for a very hard look at the actual evidence on students’ achievement shortfalls.”

Among calls for reducing college credits as a way to save higher ed costs, Jane Wellman wrote in the Winter 2010 issue of NEJHE that  “excess credits—courses that exceed the minimum required for the degree—add around 27% to the average cost to produce a degree.”


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