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ERIC Number: EJ1010137
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-1383
Perspectives: Unconventional Wisdom
Smith, Burck
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, v45 n1 p33-39 2013
Since online learning burst on the scene in the late 1990s, predictions of traditional higher education's obsolescence and disruption have been steady fare in the trade and popular media. This time the change is shaping up to be more profound than most had envisioned. As alternatives to the degree system (and the accreditation/financial aid/regulatory structure that supports it) emerge, the very concept of the "degree" and "college" are up for grabs. On the one hand, the status quo is stressed by a declining willingness to provide institutional and individual subsidies for higher education, structural inflation in existing college business models, fierce competition for students in a consolidating market, and declining personal incomes. On the other, the advent of comparable and cheaper unaccredited options for course delivery and free content and learning management software create new options for students--higher education's customers. Together, these create an unstoppable momentum for student-driven, rather than policy-driven, change. As students start to "vote with their dollars," public policy will follow, not lead. The article concludes that whether it is black-market products during wartime, speakeasies during Prohibition, or jitney cabs at airports, when a government-regulated market becomes dysfunctional, new ones emerge. In the US, the demand for higher education has grown dramatically and the cost of delivery has fallen, yet prices continue to rise despite massive public subsidies. With the proliferation of viable, affordable, and unsubsidized providers of college courses emerging outside of the accreditation system, parallel markets are emerging. These providers call into question the very definition of "college" and, with it, the regulatory and subsidy model under which higher education has operated for the past 70 years. (Contains 1 table and 14 resources.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A