President's Blog

Higher ed’s inequality problem

In June I had the pleasure of presenting at the Future Trends Forum, an event organized by the Bankinter Innovation Foundation (the Foundation, on whose board I server, is a leading think tank on innovation based in Madrid).

The topic of the forum was Inequality and Technology, that is, how technology could contribute to solve rather than exacerbate inequality.

I addressed how declining state investment, rising tuition and student debt, are creating a real access issue that is threatening the equalizing role expected of public universities.  I discussed also how earning differences between those with and without a college degree, and among graduates with different majors, is not declining but growing, and how minorities and women tend to be adversely distributed towards majors with less earning potential.  (Many of the data I cited come from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, an excellent resource).

My suggestion to technology innovators interested in inequality is that we focus on tools to identify talent, to predict and support completion, and to devise alternative forms of financial aid (unfortunately, MOOCs, haven’t yet delivered on their promise of solving the access problem).

Here’s my nine-minute presentation (in English, despite the cover slide):