Generational Shockwaves and the Implications for Higher Education

Generational Shockwaves and the Implications for Higher Education

Edited by Donald E. Heller and Madeleine B. d’ Ambrosio

This volume, part of the TIAA-CREF Institute Series on Higher Education, is based on a national conference convened by the Institute in November 2007. The generational issues that were the focus of the conference raise both risks and opportunities with the potential to profoundly affect our cultural environment, both inside and outside academe.

Chapter 12: Public Policy Reform and Expanding Societal Expectations

F. King Alexander

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, education, education policy, politics and public policy, education policy, social policy and sociology, ageing, education policy


F. King Alexander1 In November 2007 a large group of college and university officials and faculty gathered in New York to explore needed responses to changing demographic challenges facing higher education institutions. The discussions primarily focused on pedagogical innovations to accommodate evolving educational needs and learning habits of an emerging generation of students. While many ideas and fruitful avenues were explored, from a macro perspective a number of critical issues stand out on the higher education landscape that are the focus of this chapter. If higher education is to have the same success in serving current and future generations of students as it has with past generations, our society will need to address these issues. First, is the unintended consequence of federal funding policy that has driven many public and private institutions away from addressing societal needs in order to advance institutional competition. For nearly four decades federal government policy has had a somewhat perverse effect on higher education by disproportionately aiding institutions that charge more while at the same time also providing financial incentives to states that opt out of funding of their public colleges and universities. Despite the fact that there may be no causal relationship between federal direct student aid programs and institutional tuition and fee increases (Heller, 2007), National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) data consistently indicate that institutions that charge more do receive disproportionately more aid while also qualifying more students for aid. This is particularly relevant in programs other than Pell Grants,...

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