Nov 17, 2012
Death of the Degree? Not So Fast
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"Credentials that hold value for students and employers will remain central to higher education. For the foreseeable future, this means degrees from accredited institutions." Not so fast, Ethel. Higher education is used by employers to screen applicants for employment for a number of reasons.
Academic credentials have been institutionalized through the system of regional accreditation founded in 1885. It is easier to simply to accept a college diploma as evidence of suitability for employment than to create an alternative method. That method discriminates against those who do not earn a college degree and younger citizens who could easily perform the tasks required of entry level positions in a range of industries from hospitality management to software programming to banking. Clearly, corporations do rely on degrees from accredited institutions, but they are looking also for something more than a degree. They are looking for maturity, sobriety, a work ethic, honesty and, of course, ability. The American higher education system is failing in educating students who have those qualities and it costs too much for a college education. The system of academic "credtis," "credit hours," and "accreditation" has now morphed into a bureaucratic maze of competing regulations and demands that divert higher education from "education." "Accreditation" today means accredit to accept U.S. government subsidized tuition loans and grants. "Credentials" from "accredited institutions" are no longer indicators of future job success, income, or most important, maturity, honesty, sobriety and, most of all, loyalty. If this is a true statement then the belief system of University Ventures is only half true. Credentials that hold value for students and employers will remain central to higher education." But the this does not necessarily mean "degrees from accredited institutions." University Ventures' assumption that past is prologue is contradicted by the history of entrepreneurship, the spontaneous actions of markets and the principle of creative destruction that is manifest in free societies. That higher education is the one industry sector most resistant to digital technologies, and advances of the Internet is evident that very restrictive regulatory barriers alone have protected campus-based education from competition by low cost Internet providers. Those regulations have permitted the knowledge industry to grow, develop its own culture and create cultural demands for degrees from accredited institutions that today most citizens cannot afford. In light of this systemic failure, the future of higher education may be in the hands of privately held corporations, entrepreneurs and other forces within American society, not "accredited institutions."
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