Back to school: the value of higher ed to students, states, industry

After spending a year teaching English at elementary schools in Tanzania and Peru, my niece is college bound in the fall. As she heads off to school, I was shocked to learn that her annual room, board and tuition would be around $55,000 a year. This made me think about the value of higher education in relation to the economic challenges our country is facing today.

Recently, I’ve been traveling to various states to meet with gubernatorial candidates, new governors and their staffs. In the course of these discussions, several of the governors identified the link between higher education performance and their states’ success in creating the workforce of the future. States will be less able to retain major employers or attract new employers if they are not equipping students with the skills necessary to be successful in the workforce.

At Deloitte, we also recognize this challenge, if for no other reason than our own significant human capital needs. That is one of the reasons why we have selected education as the foundation for our corporate social responsibility program. I’m particularly proud of the relationship we have with the College Summit, which is focused on encouraging and equipping inner city students to get into college, and to be successful once they are enrolled.

Additionally, the Canadian member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited recently released a major study on higher education performance titled “Making the Grade: A Study of the Top 10 Issues Facing Higher Education Institutions.”

Those 10 issues impacting higher education are:

  • As funding declines, cost management is key
  • Competition to attract the best students is heating up
  • It is important to set priorities carefully
  • Higher education technology upgrades are essential
  • A renewed focus on resource optimization is required
  • Education programs need to be linked to outcomes
  • It is vital to attract and retain talented faculty
  • Enhancing environmental performance is a priority
  • Tackling diversity, accessibility, and affordability is important
  • Addressing new responsibilities requires better disclosure and transparency

You can see the study in its entirety here.

As always, I look forward to your comments.

Mr. Robert N. Campbell III is Vice Chairman, Principal, Deloitte LLP and is the U.S. State Government Leader, based in Austin, TX

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