Percentage of borrowers owing $20,000 or more doubled since 2002 — from by Rick Seltzer


The percentage of student loan borrowers leaving college owing $20,000 or more doubled over about a decade, according to a report released [on 8/16/17] by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Over 40 percent of student loan borrowers owe $20,000 or more when they leave college. That’s up from 20 percent in 2002.





The Benefits of an Innovative Culture at Smaller Colleges — from with Shane Garrison | Vice President of Enrollment, Campbellsville University
Smaller institutions are under more pressure than ever to innovate or collapse—weathering the storm is simply no longer an option for most institutions. This requires leaders and staff across the institution to have a creative mindset, and be willing to experiment and evolve.


There is the reality that if you don’t diversify, if you fail to be creative, if you fail to try new things, you’re on the verge of folding. In Kentucky, two faith-based colleges folded within a span of about three years, and I think that created an urgency to avoid that fate. We have to be willing to try, create and experiment to survive, and that means doing things that we’ve never done before.

Evo: How can an innovative and experiment-focused culture help smaller institutions overcome some of those obstacles?

SG: I think you have to be willing to experiment for short periods of time with strategies that do not fit inside the traditional bubble. For example, for us, our online presence has been fairly strong for about 12 years. However, we had to experiment with placing a good number of full four-year bachelor’s degree programs online, something our university had never done. We had associate programs, we had graduate programs but we had to add bachelor programs online. We did it for three or four years in the experimental phase and noticed these were actually strong and it was building a beautiful pathway between our associate two-year programs and the four-year programs and continuing into graduate programs.

We are experimenting now with an international recruiting partnership and giving it two to three years to see what happens. It has been very successful thus far. This model has created a culture where we can experiment.













The Rose-Colored Glasses Come Off: a Survey of Business Officers — from by Doug Lederman & Rick Seltzer

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The reality of higher education’s financial challenges is sinking in among college and university business officers.

Now the question is what they’re doing about it — and whether they’re willing to do enough.

Chief business officers increasingly agree that higher education is in the midst of a financial crisis, according to the 2017 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Business Officers. Some are also starting to lose faith in the idea that they can overcome revenue shortfalls using the often-cited strategy of increasing enrollment.

Many respondents were open or supportive of the idea of consolidating programs or academic operations with other institutions. Yet survey results reflected a greater skepticism about their likelihood of actually merging with other colleges or universities in the near future. Business officers were also generally leery of addressing their budget issues in ways that would require them to ask faculty members to change. So although business officers are increasingly recognizing the financial threats they face, experts wondered whether they are being realistic about the kind of strategies they will have to pursue to chart a course forward.




Also see:



I’d like to make a modest proposal.

What if for 2018 all of us involved in postsecondary learning innovation – edtech and CTL and library folks – spent the entire calendar year learning about the business of higher education?

— Per Joshua Kim





Career Pathways: Five Ways to Connect College and Careers calls for states to help students, their families, and employers unpack the meaning of postsecondary credentials and assess their value in the labor market.


If students are investing more to go to college, they need to have answers to basic questions about the value of postsecondary education. They need better information to make decisions that have lifelong economic consequences.

Getting a college education is one of the biggest investments people will make in their lives, but the growing complexity of today’s economy makes it difficult for higher education to deliver efficiency and consistent quality. Today’s economy is more intricate than those of decades past.


From this press release:

It’s Time to Fix Higher Education’s Tower of Babel, Says Georgetown University Report
The lack of transparency around college and careers leads to costly, uninformed decisions

(Washington, D.C., July 11, 2017) — A new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (Georgetown Center), Career Pathways: Five Ways to Connect College and Careers, calls for states to help students, their families, and employers unpack the meaning of postsecondary credentials and assess their value in the labor market.

Back when a high school-educated worker could find a good job with decent wages, the question was simply whether or not to go to college. That is no longer the case in today’s economy, which requires at least some college to enter the middle class. The study finds that:

  • The number of postsecondary programs of study more than quintupled between 1985 and 2010 — from 410 to 2,260;
  • The number of colleges and universities more than doubled from 1,850 to 4,720 between 1950 and 2014; and
  • The number of occupations grew from 270 in 1950 to 840 in 2010.

The variety of postsecondary credentials, providers, and online delivery mechanisms has also multiplied rapidly in recent years, underscoring the need for common, measurable outcomes.

College graduates are also showing buyer’s remorse. While they are generally happy with their decision to attend college, more than half would choose a different major, go to a different college, or pursue a different postsecondary credential if they had a chance.

The Georgetown study points out that the lack of information drives the higher education market toward mediocrity. The report argues that postsecondary education and training needs to be more closely aligned to careers to better equip learners and workers with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy and close the skills gap.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for students to make the right decisions. Since 1980, tuition and fees at public four year colleges and universities have grown 19 times faster than family incomes. Students and families want — and need — to know the value they are getting for their investment.



Also see:

  • Trumping toward college transparency — from by Anthony Carnevale
    The perfect storm is gathering around the need to increase transparency around college and careers. And in accordance with how public policy generally comes about, it might just happen. 






Liberal arts education is unique in its ability to develop independence of thought, to nurture wisdom, and to build both a deep empathy for others and broad context for decision making in uncertain situations.

— Gunnar Counselman


8 steps to 7 billion liberal arts degrees — from by Gunnar Counselman, the founder/CEO of Fidelis Education, a Learning Relationship Management (LRM) System.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

So being on the offensive about the liberal arts means reframing the conversation from a defense for the 40M people who participate in it today. Being on offensive means abandoning all tendency toward Ludditism and instead getting creative about using technology to scale effective learning in the liberal arts and pure sciences to the other 99.6 percent of people on the planet. And being on the offensive means we must stop worrying about jobs. There will be many more jobs educating 99.6 percent of the world’s population than there are educating the .4 percent (the percentage of the world population currently receiving a liberal arts degree), no matter how efficient we become with technology.

Let’s observe the ingredients of liberal education as they are today at places like Middlebury, Smith, Sarah Lawrence, and Union, honors programs at state universities, then imagine what it would look like scaled to 7 billion people.

This analysis makes it clear that liberal education is a relationship-generation machine built around personalized content. So our technology has to be a relationship-management machine, purpose-built to make sure that every single person in a learning community has peers, mentors, and advisors to collaborate to build strong learning pathways of content.


From DSC:
Though Gunnar likely has his LMS-influenced lenses on while sharing his thoughts here (as I often have my tech-tinted lenses/perspectives on as well), he still makes some valid points.  Those who support the liberal arts need “to stop hunkering down in a defensive posture. It’s time to go on the offensive…” he asserts.  I would second his thought that we need to creatively employ technology to help the liberal arts thrive in the 21st century.

In fact, I’m beginning to wonder more and more if online/digitally-based learning will turn out to be the very thing that saves the liberal arts as we make our way through the 21st century.  Getting a liberal arts degree at $5K a year is one thing.  Getting it at a price tag of $25K-$50+K per year is another thing.  When prices rise like that, expectations change.  The expectations of a solid ROI come to mind much more as the prices increase (and I would even use the word requirements for many of us now, not just expectations). 

If we want the liberal arts to continue to exist outside the top 5% of the income earners out there, we must find ways to bring the prices down again. The best way I know to do that is to go online — at least in part.  Setting up a new server or asking one’s vendor(s) to allocate more storage, bandwidth, applications, user accounts, etc. is far cheaper than maintaining physical campuses or developing new buildings on campuses across the land.  And you can still have excellent relationships, interactions, and communications via online/digitally-based means.

Also see:


Trend: Campuses moving from online to On-Demand — from by Meris Stansbury
Management expert discusses why the future for college campuses is on-demand, not just online

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

IT experts are calling it a super storm of forces that’s changing the way a campus ecosystem operates.

First, the very foundation of student expectations is changing, with requirements for education delivery models that are more flexible and accessible than those of generations past.

Second, the higher-ed market—thanks to the economy and possibilities available via technology—is reshaping itself under new requirements for competition, delivery, funding, and outcomes.

And it’s this super storm, say experts, that’s creating the need for new business processes and strategies to better compete and retain students.







From DSC:
I don’t have data to back this up, but I also have it that student expectations are changing. (It would be great if someone out there who has some resources in this regard would post some links to such resources in the comments section.)  Anecdotally, the students’ expectations of today are different from when I attended college years ago. We didn’t have the Internet back then; we didn’t have personal computing devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops; we didn’t work collaboratively; there were no online-based courses; we didn’t have nearly as many choices for learning at our disposal.

But taking cues from society at large and from the trends in computing, people want to connect and they want to do so on their terms — i.e., when it fits into their schedules. So I can see this sort of phenomenon picking up steam, at least for a significant subset of learners out there. In fact, it’s an underlying assumption I have in my Learning from the Living [Class] Room vision. Many of us will seek out training/education-on-demand types of resources throughout our careers — as we need them. Heutagogy, lifelong learning, and rhizomatic learning come to mind; so does the growth of and the growth of bootcamps/accelerated learning programs (such as

Finally, the concept of “learning hubs” is interesting in this regard, whereby a group of learners get together in a physical setting, but tap into online-based resources to help them learn about a topic/discipline.  Those online-based resources could be synchronous or asynchronous. But learners come together when it works into their schedules.



Finding New Business Models in Unsettled Times — from by Paul J. LeBlanc
If the core crisis in higher education is one of sustainability, being focused on the job to be done and having a grasp of the forces shaping higher education gives institutional leaders a new way to think about recasting their future.


“What to do?” is the question that so many college and university presidents struggle with right now. We seem to be sitting at the heart of a perfect storm where a lot of things are happening faster than our ability to predict and strategize. We can respond to this stormy weather as medieval farmers did to the next day’s weather: by simply waiting to see what arrives and then taking action, often inadequately. Or we can recognize that we actually have the tools, the technology, and the know-how to reinvent U.S. higher education in ways that will address its current failings.

Those established entities that survive are able to harness the innovations and rethink their business models to better serve their customers. Those that eventually disappear typically adopted one of two strategies: (1) hunker down and hope to ride out the storm by doing more of the same; or (2) try a little of everything. Neither strategy works very well, and as a result, once-great and seemingly unassailable companies have disappeared or, at best, survived as mere shadows of themselves. That’s the scenario that many current critics of traditional higher education posit and even welcome, often pointing to other industries that have seen enormous disruption—music, publishing, journalism, and retailing—to presage the impending doom for traditional higher education.

But there is no one higher education to reinvent, and colleges and universities do no one job. Higher education encompasses the following purposes:

  • A coming-of-age higher education that meets the needs of recent high school graduates, usually providing a purposeful living/learning community that provides ample opportunities for self-discovery and growing up
  • A workforce-development higher education that focuses on working adults and that provides job and career opportunities while creating a talent pipeline for employers in a local economy
  • A research higher education that seeks to add to the store of human knowledge, creating breakthrough, innovative solutions to a wide range of problems
  • A status higher education that provides a value-added network of peers, as well as access to and maintenance of privilege and social status
  • A civic-good higher education that works to produce a more just and responsible society
  • A cultural-improvement higher education that creates and/or supports the arts and humanities and instills in its graduates the taste and refinement to support and appreciate the arts

The need to reinvent underlying business models is increasingly urgent.


Other items from Educause:

Flexible Option: A Direct-Assessment Competency-Based Education Model
The University of Wisconsin Flexible Option CBE model focuses on assessment rather than credit hours, letting students undertake academic work at their own pace and prove mastery of required knowledge and skills through rigorous assessments.



A Tuition-Free College Degree (EDUCAUSE Review) — by


First, brick-and-mortar institutions have expenses that virtual universities do not. So we don’t need to pass these expenses on to our students. We also don’t need to worry about capacity. There are no limits on the number of seats in a virtual university: nobody needs to stand at the back of the lecture hall. In addition, through the use of open educational resources and through the generosity of professors who are willing to make their materials accessible and available for free, our students do not need to buy textbooks. Even professors, the most expensive line in any university balance sheet, come free to our students. More than 3,000 higher education professionals—including presidents, vice chancellors, and academic advisors from top colleges and universities such as NYU, Yale, Berkeley, and Oxford—are on-board to help our students. Finally, we believe in peer-to-peer learning. We use this sound pedagogical model to encourage our students from all over the world to interact and to study together and also to reduce the time required from professors for class assignments.

Five years ago, University of the People was a vision. Today, it is a reality. In February 2014, we were awarded the ultimate academic endorsement of our model: University of the People is now fully accredited. With this accreditation, it is time for us to scale up. We have demonstrated that our model works. I now invite colleges and universities and, even more important, the governments of developing countries to replicate this model to ensure that the gates to higher education will open ever more widely. A new era is coming—an era that will witness the disruption of the current model of higher education, changing the model from one that is a privilege for the few to one that is a basic right, affordable and accessible for all.




Beyond the MOOC Model: Changing Educational Paradigms — by James G. Mazoue
Four trends – MOOC-based degrees, competency-based education, the formalization of learning, and regulatory reform – are shifting educational practice away from core tenets of traditional education, indicating not a transient phenomenon but rather a fundamental change to the status quo.


According to Georgia Tech’s recent survey, initial reviews from the first cohort of OMS CS students are positive: 93 percent recommend the program to others and nearly two-thirds said their experience exceeds their expectations. If data from the OMS CS show that MOOC-based degrees are viable, others will follow with an array of offerings that will compete directly with on-campus programs.

Some may quibble that the $6,600 OMS CS is not modeled on real MOOCs because of its price tag. However, this misses the larger point: namely, that a quality online degree offered at scale for a nominal or greatly reduced cost is a more attractive alternative for many students than an on-campus degree. In deference to purists who might balk at calling a degree program that charges tuition a MOOC, we can call it a MOD (for Massive Online Degree). Whatever we call it, it will be bad news for on-campus degree programs. With competition, we can expect a MOD’s cost to go down; it is not unreasonable to think that it might go down to a negligible amount if cost recovery shifts from charging students for the acquisition of knowledge to a model based on learning assessment and credentialing. In the end, students — if we let them — will be the ones who decide whether a MOD’s value outweighs the additional cost of an on-campus degree.

Far from fading into oblivion, data show that MOOCs are in fact increasing in global popularity.  The case for dismissing MOOCs as an educational alternative, therefore, has yet to be made.




Can disruption save higher education? — from eCampus News by Meris Stansbury

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Christensen: “The question now is: ‘Is there something that can’t be displaced within a traditional university’s value offering?'”

However, Christensen outlined three ways traditional colleges and universities, like his own Harvard Business school, could survive into the future:

Focus on professors
[when recruiting faculty]…focus less on their publishing capabilities and expert knowledge of material, and more on their ability to connect to others.

Understand why technology, like online learning, is disruptive.

Don’t try to change from the inside — you will fail.  [Use offsets.]



Is it too late to reinvent our universities? — from by Mike Maddock

Excerpt (most emphasis from DSC):

A new survey by Moody’s Investor Service reports that more than 40% of U.S. colleges and universities face stagnant or falling tuition revenue and enrollment.

That’s four in 10!

It isn’t a misprint. For you data heads, let me quote from the news release that accompanied the research report.

Moody’s key findings include net tuition revenue declines at a projected 28% of public and 19% of private universities, with net tuition revenue growth below inflation projected for 44% of public and 42% of private universities and total enrollment declines at nearly half of public and private universities. In our prior survey, 15% of public and 18% of private universities projected net tuition revenue declines.”


From DSC:
Back in February of 2009, I publicly asked whether there was a bubble in higher education (see 2/16/09 entry) — being pretty sure there was one developing even before 2009.




A year or two later, there wasn’t any doubt in my mind that there was a bubble in higher ed.  Then for me, the question became…”Has it popped yet?” 

Fast forward to 2013 and it seems I have my answer.  It’s a definite one; there’s no mistaking it.  The bubble has popped.

For those of us working within higher education, time is no longer on our side. We have been too slow to adapt and not innovative enough with our experiments. If we keep this up, I can’t help but think that the answer to Maddock’s question is a “Yes.” 

But we can change. We need to be willing to experiment, innovate, fail, pivot, try things again.  It would be good to model this for our students — as most likely, many of them are going to be doing this sort of thing throughout their lifetimes.


Along these lines…this addendum concerns me:


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