New Survey: College Presidents on the Future of American Higher Education, Online Learning, and the Role of the Faculty!

Dear Commons Community,

The Chronicle of Higher Education in January 2014, conducted a survey of college presidents (N=349). The survey questions focused on innovations in higher education, including the role various constituencies play in advancing ideas, as well as their opinions on online learning, blended/hybrid courses, and competency-based degrees.  It contains some interesting insights. The report is available as a free download. Below is an excerpt from the Executive Summary.



Executive Summary
World ranking:
Presidents of both public and private institutions agree by an overwhelming majority that for now, higher education in the United States is either the best or one of the best in the world. Nonetheless, both groups believe that number one ranking will decline slightly over the next ten years.

Well over half of all presidents believe that at least a moderate amount of disruption is needed in higher education. Years ago disruption to higher-education’s business model was not something a college president was likely to promote. These days, disruption is sometimes a rallying cry from the president’s office.

New ideas:
An overwhelming majority of presidents—three quarters at private institutions and even more at public campuses—think that hybrid courses that contain both face-to-face and online components will have a positive impact on higher education. They are more skeptical, however, about massive open online courses (MOOCs), at least in their current form. Half of the presidents surveyed suspect that MOOCs will have a negative impact on higher education.

More than half of presidents of public institutions believe they
and their peers are providing either excellent or very good value
for the money spent by students and their parents. Their private
campus counterparts are a little less persuaded about the value they
are giving. Slightly under half rate themselves excellent or very good on value, although an additional third give themselves a grade of good.

Two-thirds of presidents of public institutions think that higher education is headed in the right direction, as do well over half of their private campus peers. In contrast, a survey by The Chronicle last fall concluded that faculty are significantly more pessimistic. Only a third think that higher education is headed in the right direction.

Presidents say that when it comes to innovation in higher education, reformers pay too much attention to cutting costs and not enough to changing the model of teaching and learning.

Change drivers:
Two-thirds of public-institution presidents think that politicians are the most influential drivers of change in higher education and half of private-campus presidents agree with that assessment. The presidents on both types of campuses believe strongly that faculty should be the number one drivers of change.

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