The Center for the Future of Higher Education—the “virtual think tank” of the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education—has released its first report, Closing the Door, Increasing the Gap: Who’s not going to (community) college. It’s written by Gary Rhoades, former general secretary of the AAUP, and in the report, Rhoadesexplains that more than 400,000 students are turned away from community colleges each year, simply because schools do not have the necessary funding to meet demand.
Rhoades then asks which students are having these opportunities denied to them. The report emphasizes that they are not a random sampling of applicants. When public universities face budget shortfalls and other financial cuts, they often raise tuition, as we have been seeing over the past few years. This in turn means that some middle-income students, who would otherwise attend these universities, are now priced out, and they turn to community colleges instead (Rhoades also cites “the trend of community colleges offering four-year degrees” as an added reason why middle-income students may be applying in higher numbers). When forced to compete with these applicants, lower-income students face tougher odds. The report also offers evidence that minority applicants are particularly hard-hit when it comes to getting squeezed out of higher ed.
The report also discusses the trend of community colleges emphasizing training programs, which are intended to help students get jobs in the short run, at the expense of a broader liberal arts education, which could help them pursue a bachelor’s degree or a further graduate degree later in their academic careers. The conclusion includes ideas for how to correct these trends in higher ed. You can read the report online by clicking here.