Although there is widespread public faith in the value of higher education, the progress of massifcation has been slow and uneven.
And why is it slow and uneven?
Well, one, higher education did not admit significant numbers of racial and ethnic minorities until after the civil rights of the 1960s forced change.
Second, despite significant expenditures on financial aid, minority and low income individuals are still less likely to attend college than whites or students from middle-and upper-income families.
Although access gaps have nowadays narrowed somewhat, large gaps remain between completion rates.
Low-income students come to college less prepared, and must balance academic demands with work and family responsibilities.
Finding ways to increase the enrollment rates of low-income students and encourage their success once enrolled are two of the most important problems facing American higher education.
One of the challenges to meet these goals is that they can conflict with the other central tenets of American higher education.
That is market competition and resistance to government control, as I said before.
For example, institutional competition for the most academically talented students is likely to encourage increased use of tuition discounting for students who have no financial need,
and this could divert resources away from low-income students who need financial aid.
Similarly, institutions may seek to distinguish themselves in the academic marketplace by becoming more selective in admissions decisions, thus reducing the number of low-income students admitted.
However, a primary role of government is to mediate the potentially negative effects of competition by insisting that institutions adhere to their missions and that institutions provide need-based financial assistance to students.
So a constant preoccupation of American higher education is this tension between the competitive, ambitious nature of institutions and the interests of government in promoting important public goals, primary among them broad access and widespread success for all students.
Okay. For today's lecture, we have briefly discussed some of the major challenges facing U.S. higher education,
such as the impact of the marketplace on institutions and the tension between competition and promoting public goals.