On the federal legislative horizon are changes for colleges and universities, and certainly some reforms are needed. The most significant change that may be coming is in student loans.
Leading to the proposed changes are the high costs of a college education and a “skills” gap that has left more than 6 million jobs unfilled, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The student-loan program is long overdue for changes. It has been too easy for a student and parents to obtain a loan for education. Caps on borrowing probably are coming. Another reform that is expected is to lay conditions for shorter and faster pathways to the workforce. There may be changes that pertain to the forgiving of loan balances after a period of making payments.
An important provision in the new plan is to give community colleges more funding to team with the private sector and create apprenticeships.
Members of Congress say they have heard from employers that much of higher education is “irrelevant” and they want accreditors to lean on schools to accept credits from technology-based programs, according to the Journal. We have heard industrial plant managers in some fields say they seek high school graduates who can be trained, and they don’t seek that many college graduates.
It once was that if a college or university could teach students to think by having a well-rounded liberal arts education that would lead to success in most fields. There are countless success stories to prove that to be true. We have become a much more technical world and that has driven some students away from the liberal arts and they seek degrees in engineering and computer science, for example.
The GOP plan includes a provision to expand apprenticeships and competency-based education, with more learn and earn opportunities, the Journal said.
It has been gradual but higher education has been shifting away from the liberal arts, and there is some sadness in that move — fewer well-rounded in education graduates, who lack an appreciation of what went before and what we have now.