University President Ross, other university officials agree higher education must remain affordable
Editor’s note: This is the fourth story in a series about the future of higher education.
Central Michigan University officials have high hopes for higher education.
University President George Ross said in an email he believes affordability is one mounting pressure on higher education in Michigan and across the nation. He said affordability is a concern for students working to earn their degrees, as well as a concern for universities trying to maintain costs while offering quality academic programs.
Access, accountability and having more students attain graduation are other pressures facing higher education, he said.
Ross said academic programs have always been driven ultimately by the needs of the society which it serves. He said the recent prioritization of more than 400 programs is evidence that the diversity of programs at Central Michigan University will continue to evolve.
“As we prepare students for meaningful careers and also prepare student to be conscientious and active citizens, the quality of our programs must, and will, remain high at CMU,” he said.
Steven Johnson, vice president for enrollment and student services, said in an email the rising cost of education will mostly impact student choice of educational institution.
“The higher education landscape is becoming more competitive and many institutions are becoming increasingly aggressive in their efforts to attract prospective students to their institutions,” he said. “More students may also consider attending community college first, and then transfer to a four-year institution in order to manage costs.”
It is important for families to start planning for higher education expenses as soon as possible, preferably when the student is still in middle school, Johnson said. Students should also consider on-campus jobs to help offset day-to-day costs and gain additional work experience, he said.
Johnson said the CMU administration recognizes costs are a major consideration for students when choosing a university. Administrators are taking seriously the importance of ensuring education access to all interested individuals, he said.
“CMU remains committed to keeping costs at a manageable level, creating financial aid programs that reward outstanding achievement and that help students who need it,” he said.
CMU has had the lowest cumulative tuition increase of all state universities in the past three years, Johnson said. CMU’s need-based scholarships have nearly doubled to more than $10.6 million, and merit-based scholarships have risen from $19 million to $25 million in the past three years.
Jim McDonald, Academic Senate chairman and Shared Governance Committee co-chair, said higher education doesn’t need to necessarily change how instruction is done, but how it is paid for. He said things will just have to be done more efficiently and well thought out.
“Costs need to be contained,” he said. “We can’t just keep passing things along to students.”
McDonald said he doesn’t think economics need to get in the way of CMU focusing on its students. He said CMU attracts students who are motivated and dedicated, including many who are first-generation college students. Hopefully CMU will continue to be an institution that is student-centered and appreciative of its faculty, he said.
“We can’t lose sight of that,” he said.
Ross said CMU has an academic culture that focuses on the success of students.
“We stand well and stand tall,” he said. “We have the finest faculty in the state, along with an excellent support staff, bright and energetic students and academic programs that are academically recognized nationally.”
The academic programs that are offered are going to have to be constructed in such a way that prepares students for their career demands, McDonald said. As a university, CMU has to be sensitive to new technological skills that employers are looking for in students and pass that along to courses, he said.
“You should have good quality programs, but you should also meet the need for courses that students want to take,” he said.
McDonald said CMU’s use of technology is cutting-edge, and the university is instructionally headed in the right direction.
“In some aspects, I think we’re in front of what other people are doing,” he said.
Johnson said CMU has tremendous strengths that rank it at the top of the state and the nation, including biology, health, business and teacher education programs.
“CMU is on a playing field with the very best universities in Michigan,” he said. “Year after year, we actively cement our position as the university of choice for thousands of students.”
Johnson said he expects to see growth in the number of interdisciplinary programs offered by both public and private institutions. He said students are working with faculty to combine once contrasting courses to provide new learning outcomes.
There is a national trend toward hybrid learning where students are choosing classes with an online component, as technology is becoming a greater factor in education delivery, Johnson said. Co-curricular activities are also being viewed as a pivotal part of the education experience.
“The out-of-classroom experiences often complement the classroom-learning objectives,” he said.
In a perfect world, Ross said he would like to see higher education among the higher priorities of the state and the nation. As a top priority, increased funding would be beneficial for universities, he said.
McDonald said he would like to see more communication among deans, faculty, administrators and students in the future. He said the decision process should be more inclusive because all of CMU is affected by issues concerning budgets and programs.
“I think the way the decisions are made will have to change. It needs to be more of a collaborative process,” he said. “The top-down model simply doesn’t work anymore.”
Foremost, Johnson said he would like to see a larger number of students complete their undergraduate studies in four to five years. Students would be able to enter the workplace sooner and reduce their expenses and debt load this way, he said.
Johnson said all students should have an international experience as part of their academic program because it will introduce students to different cultures, learning opportunities and employment opportunities.
“The world is a global market,” he said. “The time will come that all degree programs will have an international component.”
Jackie Johnston, academic advisor in the South Quad Success Center, said the increasing cost of higher education will make it more difficult for students to afford attending a university.
“I hope that it will make them more aware of their options and they will educate themselves on what resources are available to them,” she said.
Leave a Comment
Like us on Facebook
- : no, this girl is insane. i went to high school with her. she…
- irish8517: While rate my professors is a valuable tool it should be tak…
- michmediaperson: Shapiro is wrong. Isn't RateMyProfessor, the report card st…
- Kellie: We miss miss you Carolyn. You still are remember on the socc…
- anonymous: I know this girl was in the wrong, but, put yourself in her …
• Is your baby graduating CMU? Place a personal greeting and photo in CM Life's Baby Graduates special pages. Download the form here
• Contact local movers in Mount Pleasant to help with all of your moving needs.
• Download Campus Cash Coupons!
• Search for local apartments
• Add your link here