Preserving and Strengthening Access

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by Lisa S. Coico, president of the City College of New York (excerpted from the Huffington Post)

President Coico published a piece on the Huffington Post last week urging lawmakers and public universities to preserve their mission of providing an affordable education, and to better connect students to networks that can provide a pathway to successful post-graduate careers. You can read the entire post here.

From the Huffington Post:

… “Access to affordable higher education has enabled people like me to take their lives on a different trajectory than would have otherwise been possible. Many have attained higher living standards; a few changed the world through their contributions. At City College, we claim such illustrious alumni as Gen. Colin L. Powell, Andrew Grove, Jonas Salk and nine Nobel laureates.

Clearly, public colleges and universities have been a win-win for both the students who attend them and the states and cities that support them. The higher tax revenues resulting from increased lifetime earnings and the economic development supported by entrepreneurship and university-based research offer one of the highest returns to be found on public investment.

Today, however, the pathway faces challenges at both the point that students enter college and after they graduate. States have slashed support for their colleges and universities, forcing them to raise tuition to unaffordable levels. New graduates often have to take unpaid internships to gain entry to their chosen fields. That’s a huge barrier for those who need to work to support themselves and pay off student loans.

At a time when, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United States has the worst income inequality in the developed world, these challenges cannot and must not go ignored. Otherwise, our society risks creating an expanding permanent underclass. Such a situation would weaken our competitiveness, retard our growth, threaten democracy and reduce the number of people with the skills needed to confront societal challenges.

All of us, including government, academic institutions and employers, have a proactive role to play in preserving and strengthening the pathway to upward mobility that access to affordable, quality higher education offers. At City College, several initiatives are underway to achieve that objective.”…

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