Public Agenda

Engaging Higher Education Stakeholders to Strengthen Higher Education Reform

Higher education is beginning to innovate and adapt in response to the realities of a changing society and the needs of the modern student and the modern workforce. Yet while many agree that our higher education system is in need of reform, we often don't see eye to eye on how to get there.

Public Agenda is working across the country to help diverse stakeholders, including students, faculty, school leaders, employers and taxpayers, to work together on sustainable solutions to tough issues facing higher education today. These include issues like improving student success, closing achievement gaps and containing skyrocketing costs for students and states alike.

Through our work in higher education, we are supporting efforts to enhance teaching and learning, establish clearer student pathways toward degrees and credentials, improve transfer policies, develop effective competency-based education models and much more.

Here are some examples of the work we've been doing. If you'd like more information on these or other initiatives, send us an email and we'll be happy to help.

  • Understanding a diversity of viewpoints. Through qualitative and quantitative research with stakeholders in higher education, we are able to understand where these groups are entering the conversation about higher education reform, their expectations and things they may need to know more about. Groups we've researched include college and university presidents, financial officers, trustees, business leaders, faculty and the public.
  • Ensuring faculty and staff are true partners in change. We have worked with dozens of colleges and universities across the country to support the capacity of institutional leaders and faculty at every level to work as constructive partners in the hard work of change on behalf of better outcomes for students.
  • Injecting the voices of students. We regularly speak with students—both those who graduated and those who didn’t—to help understand their needs and priorities. Some of our research includes seminal work into why students dropped out, what helps students navigate the transfer between community college and four-year schools, and their attitudes into topics like online education, for-profit colleges and the college selection process. The findings remain key for policymakers and education leaders to understand the hurdles students face and envision the policies that may help remove them.
  • Helping stakeholders navigate changing education models. There are a lot of exciting new innovations that help more students learn more efficiently and effectively. One we’re working on closely is competency-based education, an effort to measure learning by students' ability to demonstrate competency on different measures, rather than the time they spend in a class. For example, we are facilitating the Competency-Based Education Network, a group of institutions working to share learning and address common challenges as they design and develop competency-based degree programs and related delivery models. We’ve also conducted research in the needs and priorities of students and employers as they relate to online and hybrid courses and competency-based education.