Some say colleges and universities should do more to prepare students for specific jobs. Others feel higher education should continue its traditional role in developing intellectual, analytical, and critical thinking.
There are still others, such as the new president of Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania, who believe both functions are important. In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Christopher B. Howard stressed that institutions need to ensure “students graduate with skills relevant for today’s workforce and an education that prepares them for an increasingly complex and unpredictable world.”
Howard doesn’t see universities morphing into trade schools, but does acknowledge that more need to partner with corporations to make sure classroom instruction remains relevant to current business needs and also to provide real-world experience to students.
A panel of speakers at the International Seminar on Innovation in Higher Education, held in Mexico in September, concurred with Howard’s view. “We do both,” agreed Richard Legon, president of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges in the U.S., in a report for University World News. “We prepare citizens for the future, and we prepare folks who have the capacity to think and learn and add value on the job.”
Legon said it’s the responsibility of college and university governing boards, because their members are not part of academia, to promote the value of higher education and also to encourage more innovation on higher-ed campuses.