Two economists from William & Mary offer their insights into the challenges and opportunities ahead for higher education in the United States. A question and answer session from Inside Higher Education with Robert B. Archibald and David H. Feldman, authors of, The Road Ahead for America’s Colleges and Universities.
Archibald and Feldman’s predictions aren’t as sweeping or attention grabbing as Harvard professor Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation. In fact, they’re happy to distance themselves from the world’s most aggressive prognosticators, arguing futurists are people who are happy if you don’t read their books in 20 years. They point out that the future is not preordained and can instead be changed by policy choices, economic decisions and other unforeseen events.
Nonetheless, they acknowledge that forces — notably income inequality — are making it increasingly hard for many students to pay for college. Institutions serving underprivileged students are facing some of the greatest threats, they argue. As such, the higher education system’s ability to drive economic opportunity is uncertain going forward.