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NEW REPORT: ‘Next Generation Universities’ Innovating in Face of Higher Education Crisis

New Report Highlights Six Institutions Adapting to Support Students
Published:   May 21, 2013

Washington, DC — As the nation struggles to find new ways to increase college access and completion rates while lowering costs, a handful of “Next Generation Universities” are embracing key strategies that make them models for national reform, according to a report released today by the New America Foundation’s Education Policy Program.
The report, “The Next Generation University,” comes at a time when too many public universities are failing to respond to the nation’s higher education crisis. Rather than expanding enrollment and focusing limited dollars on the neediest of students, many institutions are instead restricting enrollments and encouraging the use of student-aid dollars on merit awards. But, according to the report, some schools are breaking the mold by boldly restructuring operating costs and creating clear, accelerated pathways for students.
The report focuses on six public research universities: Arizona State University, University at Buffalo, University of California at Riverside, University of Central Florida, Georgia State University, and the University of Texas at Arlington. These universities are continuing their commitment to world class research while increasing enrollment and graduation rates, even as the investments from their states have declined.

“With the economy stuck in neutral, tuition prices and student loan debt skyrocketing, and parents and students increasingly questioning the value of a college degree, our public institutions urgently need a different approach to the challenge of educating an increasingly diverse mix of students at a reasonable cost,” said Jeff Selingo, one of the report’s authors.

The report includes case studies on each of the six universities, which were selected after an analysis of federal higher education data, site visits, and interviews. Based on similarities in their approaches to reform, the report’s recommendations include:

Institutions must adjust to serve a growing and changing student population by increasing class size and providing personalized learning communities and technologies. Two- and four-year colleges must work together to ease access for transfer students.
States should adopt performance-based funding. Performance-based funding can encourage universities to grow enrollment and serve more under-represented students when designed to consider degrees awarded, rather than enrollment or graduation rates.
Nationally, we must embrace change and encourage innovation. The report recommends the creation of a demonstration program that challenges four-year public institutions to find innovative ways to increase access and completion while lowering costs.

These recommendations and lessons will be featured at a release event today at the New America Foundation from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m, which you can watch live here. The event includes presidents from some of the featured universities as well as higher education thought leaders.

In addition to the report, New America also released two issue briefs today: one on technology-enhanced education and another on state policy environments and a database featuring output, productivity, and efficiency data from public research universities.
To read the full report, please click here. To schedule an interview, please contact Clara Hogan.

The Next Generation University project was funded through a generous grant from Lumina Foundation.