We all know that the answer to many personal and societal problems is through education. Education has empowered and changed the lives of millions of people, but the costs keep rising. Recently, President Obama and a group of educational administrators and politicians had a roundtable discussion on how to make higher education accessible to more students by lowering cost barriers. They group certainly has a daunting task ahead of them as tuition rates have skyrocketed during the Obama administration making college a pipedream for some. Here’s a recap of some of the talking points of their discussion.
Increasing graduation rates
Obama’s goal is for America to have the highest college graduation rate of any country in the world by 2020. He said that he wants this goal to occur congruently with his lowering college costs initiative.
Setting up Systematic costs reductions nationwide
One of the President Obama’s main goals is to identify those schools that are offering affordable and solid educations to students and scaling their methods to the entire landscape of higher education. Obama said he would like to take the methods of successful schools and systematize them across the board. Much of the president’s meeting was centered on duplicating the best practices of these institutions.
One of the hot topics of the day was cutting back on exorbitant textbook fees passed onto students. The average college student spends $350 per term for their textbooks. And when every time they publish a new edition, students are expected to purchase the new book, rendering the old book useless.
One of the ideas discussed among the group was making textbooks free and available to students online. Obama said he and his taskforce are looking for book publishers to get on board with the idea. California Senator Darrell Steinberg has put forth a bill in California requiring faculty and staff at all California community colleges, colleges, and universities to decide on 50 college courses to offer free textbooks for. The books would be made available to students online by the beginning of the 2013 academic year.
The hopes is that the bill in California will pass and be successful, causing it to spread to other states throughout the country. The talks were said to be productive and civil, with groups acting very cooperatively. President Obama says that the taskforce will meet multiple times throughout the upcoming months to continue to brainstorm cost saving ideas.