The New Limits of Education Policy
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The New Limits of Education Policy

Avoiding a Tragedy of the Commons

Roger Benjamin

Using a political economy framework to analyze the current problems facing US postsecondary education, The New Limits of Education Policy tackles the questions surrounding the future of higher education. The study provides an explanation of why improvement of teaching and learning is not a high priority for the stakeholders involved. Roger Benjamin explains why heightened recognition by the State of the importance of human capital in the knowledge economy will create the external conditions that will, in turn, create the need for an altered incentive system for these stakeholders. He goes on to make a case for additional positive incentives that would reward behavior that improves teaching and learning.
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Chapter 7: University Governance as a Key to the Common Pool Problem

Roger Benjamin


64 INTRODUCTION In the Introduction I posed the question where in higher education should we search for evidence of misaligned incentives systems that account for our systematic focus on research and our lack of a similar focus on undergraduate education? The principal candidate is the department-based governance system most prevalent in research universities but spread throughout the higher education sector. The department-based governance system provides the framework for the incentive system used to set and guide faculty priorities. I focus on department-based governance for several reasons. A changed environment has revealed a number of formidable challenges to higher education. They include: ● ● ● ● ● A shift from a largely homogeneous non-Hispanic white student populations to a heterogeneous population marked by a rapidly growing Hispanic population Continued growth in societal demands for research and services Rising costs of instruction, research, and infrastructure Declining public support for higher education Decline of the quality of undergraduate education as measured by: ● Decline in access to post-secondary education ● Decreasing retention and graduation rates ● Declining quality of entering and graduating college students. Any one of these problems by itself would present significant new challenges to the higher education sector in the United States. However, the combination of changes underway adds up to a threshold transformation of post-secondary educations’ environment. To respond to these challenges higher education institutions and systems need to be able to: ● Re-allocate resources from low to high priorities to respond to the imbalance between costs and resources 65 M2826 - BENJAMIN 9780857935946 PRINT.indd 65 16/12/2011 09:...

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