The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education was launched to guarantee that affordable quality higher education is accessible to all sectors of our society in the coming decades, and include the voices of the faculty, staff, students and our communities—not just administrators, politicians, foundations and think tanks—in the process of making change. We must ensure that the emphasis, curriculum, pricing, and structure of our nation’s higher education systems are good for our students and the quality of education they receive.
What is at stake is nothing less than our democracy and our economic standing in the global economy. There is a growing crisis in higher education in the United States.
- Defunding by our states means less support and higher costs for students.
- Higher costs mean decreased access for low‐income students.
- Calls for “accountability” and “efficiency” too often lead to lower quality and away from rich educational experiences for students.
- Many “reforms” being embraced are not sufficiently grounded in research about their effectiveness or in examination of possible unintended consequences.
A major push to increase graduation rates, for instance, is already spawning proposals to “streamline” general education without sufficient discussion about the wisdom of such a move. Other proposals designed to “facilitate” graduation pose threats to access and equity that have yet to be discussed or examined.
To address the growing crisis, faculty and staff from 21 states met in Los Angeles in January 2011 to discuss these issues. They agreed on the need for a national campaign to inject rationality and human values into the discussions taking place about how to “reform” higher education. While college and university faculty have initiated this campaign, it will take a broad movement of students, their families, community and civil rights organizations, unions, and allies from all sectors of our country to make a difference.
This campaign does not start from scratch. It builds on the important work being done by many diverse organizations who fight for access, affordability, funding, equity and humane values. But all too often these efforts are isolated from each other, lack needed resources, and reinvent the wheel.