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Austerity Measures
Students protest as a cash-strapped government
lets British universities triple their fees

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Feature Articles
Austerity Measures
Students protest as a cash-strapped government lets British universities triple their fees

“Outcome Funding”
Tennessee experiments with a performance-based approach to college appropriations

Reversal of Fortune
Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” economic miracle is followed by an epic downturn

Interdisciplinary Curriculum
Newly established University of Minnesota Rochester has a radically different approach to higher education

News from the Center
Center Reports

Other Voices
The West Virginia Experience
Creating a sustainable public agenda for higher education
By Brian Noland

“Critical Thinking”
Can assessments determine whether college students are learning what they need to know?
By William R. Doyle

“Presidential Leadership for Public Purpose,” a new report based on interviews and a Presidential Round≠table discussion with college presidents on the challenges facing higher education.
(view full report)
(download PDF of full report)

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May 2011

By Jon Marcus

At the University of Manchesterís Roscoe Hall, student protesters from all over the north of England have been rallying in opposition to an increase in university fees.

THE MASSIVE TOWN HALL in Albert Square is a shrine to this proud onetime manufacturing city’s past industrial and scientific reach.

Built in 1877 of 14 million bricks, the massive Gothic-style structure commemorates a legacy of empire that dates back to the Romans. A statue of the general Gnaeus Julius Agricola, who consolidated Roman rule in Britain, looks down from atop the entrance. Above him still reign Henry III and Elizabeth I. Busts of the physicist James Joule and the chemist John Dalton, a pioneer in the field of atomic theory, flank the lobby. The panels of the vaulted ceiling in the Great Hall represent the principal towns and cities all over the world with which Manchester traded in the 19th century. Over the face of the clock in the 280-foot tower is the inscription: “Teach us to number our days.”

Today, however, the ornate Great Hall is a cacophonous stew of shouting, jeering, catcalls, and hand-lettered banners made from old sheets. The anteroom is so crowded with police in neon-colored vests, it’s hard to make out the mosaic design of bees on the floor that are the symbol of Manchester industry. Struggling to be heard above the protesters, the Manchester City Council is trying to discuss its annual budget, which will cut $175 million in spending and 2,000 jobs, scaling back children’s services, highway work and garbage collection, and shuttering libraries, leisure centers, even public toilets.


“Outcome Funding”
Tennessee experiments with a performance-based approach to college appropriations

By Robert A. Jones

Jamie Woodson, a Republican state senator, says that “rewarding higher education with larger budgets is not part of the conversation. The conversation is about outcomes.”

WHEN THE NASHVILLE songwriter Kris Kristofferson famously penned the words “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” he was not likely contemplating Tennessee’s higher education system. But the lines are more apt than he might have imagined.

Tennessee, long at the bottom of the higher education heap, is throwing out the rule books that have governed its state colleges and universities. With little to lose, the state leadership is gambling that a sweeping reform, anchored by a new approach to funding, will pull the state system out of its long trough and lift it, at least, to the national average.

Beginning this year, Tennessee is promising to boost the production of college graduates by 3.5 percent annually, yielding a cumulative 210,000 more bachelor’s and associate’s degrees by 2025. At the same time, Tennessee officials say they will reduce college dropouts dramatically, and achieve those results at a lower per-student cost than today.

The reform has attracted national attention because of its scope, which includes every level of public institution from community colleges to the University of Tennessee, and because it incorporates many of the strategies currently favored by education foundations and think tanks. As such, Tennessee is seen as the laboratory where those strategies will be tested.


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