'The world is moving past' USA in higher ed

By Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY The USA has made modest gains since the early 1990s in preparing students for college and providing access, a report says today. But other countries are advancing more quickly, and if trends continue, the picture is only going to get worse, the authors warn. "The rest of the world is moving past us," says Patrick Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, the non-profit California-based group that released the report. "I don't think the country has really fully come to grips with how competitive the world has become for us."

COLLEGE BLOG: British vs. U.S. universities, 'right' school rankings ON THE WEB: Report from the National Center RESULTS BROKEN DOWN: How your state stacks up Measuring Up 2008 is the fifth in a series of biennial state-by-state report cards on six key measures of educational performance: preparation for college, participation, affordability, completion, benefits and learning.

Since the early 1990s, this year's report says, most states improved in the areas of college readiness, access and completion. But some gains are offset by declines. And 48 of 50 states have actually moved backward in the area of college affordability.

As in past years, the report raises concerns about persistent disparities in access and completion for low-income students and under-represented minorities. Those fast-growing populations are critical because they are poised to dominate the U.S. workforce as the nation's 78 million Baby Boomers — the best-educated generation in U.S. history — moves closer to retirement.

International comparisons of college-going and completion rates suggest some erosion already.

Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, whose members include the world's most developed countries, show that between 2003 and 2006, the USA slipped from fifth to seventh in the percentage of adults ages 18-24 enrolled in college, and from seventh to 10th in the percentage of adults 25-34 holding an associate's degree or higher.

The report doesn't offer a prescription. But Callan suggests that the current economic crisis calls for state governors, legislatures and higher education leaders to make dramatic changes.

"I don't think we can tweak our way out of this," he says.
--Akcooper 12:01, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

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