Yes, Affordability in Higher Education Is a Big Deal!
EdTech consultant Phil Hill posted a note yesterday about the recent Babson Survey Research Group (BSRG) survey on open educational resources (OER) and The Chronicle of Higher Education’s flawed description of the results. The bottom line is that considering all faculty, adoption of OER grew significantly this past year and there are no signs of the trend slowing anytime soon.
Of course, this should come as no surprise. You really don’t have to read (or write) with too much care to realize that affordability in higher education is a big deal.
As Mark Perry shows clearly in his popular chart, with the lone exception of hospital services the cost of higher education and learning materials has outpaced all other consumer goods and services over the past 10 years. To put a finer point on this trend, college tuition has increased 183.8%, and the cost of college textbooks has risen 183.6%.
A continued lack of affordability in higher education means that:
- We will continue to have a shortfall of adults in the U.S. with the postsecondary ”credentials needed to sustain an economy increasingly dependent on highly educated workers;”
- States will continue to struggle to meet the growing middle-skills gap in our country;
- Students of all ages will continue to incur increasing debt to pay for education after high school.
There is little doubt that, for our society and economy to remain competitive and innovative on a global scale, we will have to evolve our current business and cost models in higher education. The good news is that many institutions are already looking at innovative ways to reduce costs and make their offerings available to more students. And, as we see in the BSRG survey results, individual faculty members are taking increased responsibility for making learning more affordable through the use of OER. Equally important, there is a growing number of organizations and companies that have taken up this mission and creating innovative solutions to facilitate positive change.