Martin Jischke, Iowa State University, (515) 294-2042
John McCarroll, University Relations, (515) 294-6137
HIGHER EDUCATION GROUP CALLS FOR CHANGES TO EXPAND ACCESS
AMES, Iowa -- In an open letter to the chief executives of the nation's state and land-grant colleges and universities, Iowa State University President Martin C. Jischke and 26 other current and former public university presidents have laid out a framework for change designed to expand access to higher education.
The presidents' letter, Returning to our Roots: Student Access, calls on public institutions to change or reexamine their admissions requirements, course-credit policies, student support and financial aid programs, and relationships with public schools.
"It is important that we look at each of these factors that can affect a person's ability to access public higher education, particularly at a time when a college education is increasingly important in the job market," said Jischke.
Jischke serves on the 27-member Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities, which was created by a $1.2 million grant given by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC). Jischke is currently chairman of NASULGC. Student Access is the second of a series of commission reports in the form of letters to public university officials. The goal of the reports is to frame a vision for reforming public higher education and outline action steps for change. Graham Spanier, president of The Pennsylvania State University, chairs the Kellogg Commission.
Washington State University President Sam Smith headed the committee that planned the student access report. Other members of the committee are: Larry N. Vanderhoef, chancellor, University of California, Davis; Gregory M. St. L. O'Brien, chancellor, University of New Orleans; Joseph McDonald, president, Salish Kootenai College; and James J. Stukel, president, University of Illinois.
The access report notes that three challenges complicate efforts to expand access to public higher education -- price; the challenge of diversity, and opportunities presented by modern technology. The report concludes with an action program of seven recommendations. These include:transform land-grant and public universities; build new partnerships with public schools; validate admissions requirements; encourage diversity; clarify course- credit transfer and articulation agreements; renew efforts to contain cost and increase aid; and focus on what students need to succeed.
The report also presents short case studies that illustrate pioneering ways land-grant and public universities have been working to promote expanded access.
"This report grew out of our dismay about the shape and nature of the current conversation about educational opportunity in the United States," said commission chair Spanier. "The Commission hopes to focus that conversation where it should be -- on the needs of students."
To underline the need for change the commission also released a companion working paper, Access to Educational Opportunity, Data Related to Change. The data show:
The entire text of Returning to our Roots: Student Access, is available on-line at NASULGC's website: http://www.nasulgc.nche.edu.
- In the last two decades, the proportion of recent high school graduates going directly to college increased, from 47 percent in 1973 to 62 percent by 1994.
- The shift in federal policy from grants to loans is forcing many students to graduate in debt and is mortgaging their future.
- The fastest growing student population consists of adults who are either enrolling for the first time or returning to colleges and universities after an absence.
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