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The president of Excelsior College, John Ebersole, recently penned an article in Forbes that outlines the issues facing higher education in 2014. The article provides a quick look into what educators, institutions and students of higher learning can look forward to in the coming months.

Issues surrounding the spiraling costs of higher education continues to be a pressing issue that faces institutions and has students concerned about rising tuition. Ebersole attributes the rising costs of the last five years to reduced tax support for public institutions, which 75 percent of higher education students attend. President Obama recently held a summit at the White House that was attended by over 100 colleges and universities, nonprofits, foundations, businesses, state officials and others, with costs being a major point of discussion.

Competency-based education continues to gain traction and will be a large factor in the dialog surrounding higher education reform. President Obama’s 2013 plan to make higher education a better bargain included plans to award credits based on learning rather than seat time. The plan mentions the 40,000 student Western Governors University, Southern New Hampshire University and the University of Wisconsin.

Traditional structures of assessment will continue to be challenged in 2014. Learning outcome assessment has been the traditional measurement instrument, but according to Ebersole, “widely accepted tools and methods needed to determine learning and skill acquisition are proving hard to come by.”

Ebersole’s outline touches on many other issues and serves as a predictor of the challenges that 2014 brings for higher education. These challenges will require cooperation from all levels of government and education sectors to achieve valuable and meaningful reform. The Obama administration continues to take a proactive approach in reforming higher education and the recent summit meeting provides a solid basis for a step into the right direction.

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