A Texas Battle Over Higher Education

With Jane Clayson in for Tom Ashbrook.

A battle at the University of Texas over the future of higher education.  And whether job training will trump everything else.

In this Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 photo, a statue of George Washington stands near the University of Texas Tower at the center of campus, in Austin, Texas. (AP)

In this Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 photo, a statue of George Washington stands near the University of Texas Tower at the center of campus, in Austin, Texas. (AP)

They say “Everything is Bigger in Texas.”  But when it comes to higher education, Governor Rick Perry’s critics say his vision is too small.  Perry’s pushing for a $10K college degree.  He wants schools to focus on job-training skills.  And he wants technology to help get us there.

Other states are paying attention.  With student loan debt topping $1 trillion, there’s a lot of appeal to a bargain bachelor’s that leads to a job.  Perry’s detractors say his vision undermines great research universities, and America will suffer in in the long haul.

This hour, On Point: a battle in Texas, and what it means for the future of higher education.


Reeve Hamilton, covers higher education and politics for the Texas Tribune. (@reevehamilton)

Ray Bowen, Chairman of the National Science Board, and President Emeritus of Texas A&M University.

Thomas Lindsay, director for the Center for Higher Education, Texas Public Policy Foundation, which has been closely aligned with Republican Governor Rick Perry.

From The Reading List

The New York Times: Questioning the Mission of College  — “Do we want our marquee state universities to behave more like job-training centers, judged by the number of students they speed toward degrees, the percentage of those students who quickly land good-paying jobs and the thrift with which all of this is accomplished? In the service of that, are we willing to jeopardize some of the trailblazing research these schools have routinely done and the standards they’ve maintained? Those questions are being asked and fostering acrimony on campus after campus, the one here in Austin chief among them.”

The Atlantic: Did Texas Just Discover the Cure for Sky-High Tuition? — “Texas is experimenting with an initiative to help students and families struggling with sky-high college costs: a bachelor’s degree for $10,000, including tuition fees and even textbooks. Under a plan he unveiled in 2011, Republican Gov. Rick Perry has called on institutions in his state to develop options for low-cost undergraduate degrees. The idea was greeted with skepticism at first, but lately, it seems to be gaining traction. If it yields success, it could prompt other states to explore similar, more-innovative ways to cut the cost of education.”

Associated Press: University Of Texas, Rick Perry Clash Over Future Of Public Higher Education — “If colleges were automobiles, the University of Texas at Austin would be a Cadillac: a famous brand, a powerful engine of research and teaching, handsome in appearance. Even the price is comparable: Like one of the luxury car’s models, in-state tuition for a four-year degree runs about $40,000.”

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