Wednesday, August 16, 2006

We're Number Nine! We're Number Nine! ... United States Ranks Ninth Among 'Advanced' Industrialized Nations In Higher-Education Attainment

"Today the United States ranks ninth among industrialized nations in higher-education attainment, in large measure because only 53 percent of students who enter college emerge with a bachelor’s degree, according to census data. And those who don’t finish pay an enormous price. For every $1 earned by a college graduate, someone leaving before obtaining a four-year degree earns only 67 cents.

Last week, in a report to the Education Department, a group called the Commission on the Future of Higher Education bluntly pointed out the economic [and humanist?] dangers of these trends. “What we have learned over the last year makes clear that American higher education has become what, in the business world, would be called a mature enterprise: increasingly risk-averse, at times self-satisfied, and unduly expensive,” it said. “To meet the challenges of the 21st century, higher education must change from a system primarily based on reputation to one based on performance.”

The report comes with a handful of recommendations — simplify financial aid, give more of it to low-income students, control university costs — but says they all depend on universities becoming more accountable. Tellingly, only one of the commission’s 19 members, who included executives from Boeing, I.B.M. and Microsoft and former university presidents, refused to sign the report: David Ward, president of the nation’s largest association of colleges and universities, the American Council on Education. But that’s to be expected. Many students don’t enjoy being graded, either. The task of grading colleges will fall to the federal government, which gives enough money to universities to demand accountability, and to private groups outside higher education.

“The degree of defensiveness that colleges have is unreasonable,” said Michael S. McPherson, a former president of Macalester College in Minnesota who now runs the Spencer Foundation in Chicago. “It’s just the usual resistance to having someone interfere with their own marketing efforts.”

The commission urged the Education Department to create an easily navigable Web site that allows comparisons of colleges based on their actual cost (not just list price), admissions data and meaningful graduation rates. (Right now, the statistics don’t distinguish between students who transfer and true dropouts.) Eventually, it said, the site should include data on “learning outcomes.”

Measuring how well students learn is incredibly difficult, but there are some worthy efforts being made. Researchers at Indiana University ask students around the country how they spend their time and how engaged they are in their education, while another group is measuring whether students become better writers and problem solvers during their college years.

As Mr. McPherson points out, all the yardsticks for universities have their drawbacks. Yet parents and students are clearly desperate for information. Without it, they turn to U.S. News, causing applications to jump at colleges that move up the ranking, even though some colleges that are highly ranked may not actually excel at making students smarter than they were upon arrival. To take one small example that’s highlighted in the current issue of Washington Monthly, Emory has an unimpressive graduation rate given the affluence and S.A.T. scores of its incoming freshmen." ...

David Leonhardt "Rank Colleges, but Rank Them Right" New York Times August 16, 2006

National University of "Kyiv-Mohyla Academy", Kyiv, Ukraine, Europe.

National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, NaUKMA (Ukrainian: Національний університет «Києво-Могилянська академія», Natsional'nyi universytet "Kyyevo-Mohylians'ka akademiya", НаУКМА), located in Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine is one of the country's leading national schools of higher education.

NaUKMA in its current form was established in 1992 shortly after Ukraine gained its independence upon the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union.

However, the historic predecessor of the NaUKMA, the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (Kiev-Mogila Academy), was one of the oldest and the most distinguished academic and theological schools in Eastern Europe. It was established in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1632 by Petro Mohyla (Peter Mogila), a Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia. It played an important role in transmitting Renaissance ideals from Western Europe through Poland to Ukraine and Russia.

The present-day university occupies the historical compound of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in the Podil neighborhood [similar to Georgetown, Washington, D.C.], which contains some 17th century buildings.


History of National University of "Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

National University of "Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Department of Foreign Cooperation

Text and photo credit: Wikipedia. With thanks.


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