Survey shows higher education needs to evolve to compete

With cuts in state funding for higher education during the last decade, some universities across the country are feeling the strain as they try to keep their programs competitive with less financial support.

But even after restructuring budgets and increasing tuition, some people question if their degrees are worth the higher price.

In a survey released Monday by Northeastern University, about 83 percent of participants said higher education institutions need to evolve to stay competitive in the global market.

The poll was conducted by global business advisory firm FTI Consulting and surveyed 1,251 people to help “shed new light” on how Americans feel about the future of higher education, according to the study.

Some members of the MSU community, such as civil engineering junior Andrew Cox, agree with the study, saying higher education does not provide students with the skills needed to enter the workplace and compete against a global marketplace.

“I think it’s too easy to pass (classes),” Cox said. “(Students are) just paying money for a degree.”
Also in the survey, about 80 percent of participants said the U.S. government should spend more on higher education. About 66 percent believe the funding cuts have lowered the country’s higher education standing globally.

In the 2000-01 academic year, MSU received about 52 percent of its funds from state appropriations, compared to about 23 percent in the 2011-12 academic year, according to MSU Office of Planning and Budgets.

MSU Trustee Joel Ferguson, who has been on the board since 1986, said he completely agrees with the survey, and because of state funding cuts, the university has resorted to other tactics to keep the institution running.

“I’ve always been saying (the state needs to increase funding),” Ferguson said. “There’s a number of things (we do to make up for the loss). We have to raise tuition because there’s a certain dollar amount (needed) to operate. We have to fill the gap another way.”

Political science junior Jalessa Brown said although she is gaining experience in college, students are just paying for the degree and not the education. She said the benefits of college are less than she would have thought before entering college, and she feels she is not learning material necessary for future career success.

Although professors are there to help students learn the material, Brown has been in classroom settings where a professor’s language barrier or accent was enough to hamper comprehending the material.

“I’m learning from professors (whom students can’t understand; it’s) taking away from the learning and experiences of what college is supposed to be,” Brown said.

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