By many measures, American higher education has been a success. Growing from a small private enterprise educating the nation’s economic and social elite to a vast network of postsecondary institutions, it now enrolls sixty-eight in every hundred high school graduates. This rapid growth reflects significant investment of public resources and has not occurred without continuing debates over the level, direction, and consequences of this support. Works included in this article provide an overview of the factors that have shaped American higher education, including the impact of the GI Bill after World War II, the distribution of the financial burden between taxpayer and student, and the appropriate degree of access accorded through affirmative action and financial aid. Along with growth of public support, controversies have arisen, especially regarding the quality and efficiency of postsecondary programs and whether expansion of access has come at the expense of quality. The article begins with a Historical Overview of Development and proceeds to consideration of governance, funding, accountability, and measures of performance, and to questions of the impact the system has had on the collective good and individual advancement. The major policy debates are discussed in later sections on Accountability, Race and Affirmative Action, financial burden, and future direction, especially as these involve alternatives to the traditional four-year and postgraduate programs.
Article. 15025 words.
Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics ; Political Institutions ; Political Methodology ; Political Theory
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