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Faculty Come Together in Campaign Defending Higher Ed.

A new initiative to push for access and affordability in higher education was unveiled yesterday in Washington with support from college faculty members from across the country.

The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education, described as a national grassroots effort, is attempting to reframe the debate around reform to focus on quality higher education as an essential right that is critical to the economy and democracy.

The idea came out of a meeting in Los Angeles earlier this year when faculty from 21 states assembled to discuss higher education's future. What emerged was a push for voices of faculty, students and communities—not just administrators and politicians—to be heard in the discussion over cuts to education and the need to increase accountability. The campaign emphasizes a concern that the reforms currently being considered are not grounded in research, may have unintended consequences, and will lead to lower quality educational experiences for students.

The campaign is supported by several organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers, Association of American Colleges and Universities and the American Association of University Professors. For a full list, click here.

The campaign will create a think tank, whose members will advocate for policy recommendations on campuses and at the state level.

As a framework for its efforts, the campaign embraces seven principles:

1. Higher education in the 21st century must be inclusive; it should be available to and affordable for all who can benefit from and want a college education.

2. The curriculum for a quality 21st century higher education must be broad and diverse.

3. Quality higher education in the 21st century will require a sufficient investment in excellent faculty who have the academic freedom, terms of employment, and institutional support needed to do state-of-the-art professional work.

4. Quality higher education in the 21st century should incorporate technology in ways that expand opportunity and maintain quality.

5. Quality education in the 21st century will require the pursuit of real efficiencies and the avoidance of false economies.

6. Quality higher education in the 21st century will require substantially more public investment over current levels.

7. Quality higher education in the 21st century cannot be measured by a standardized, simplistic set of metrics.

"Unfortunately, graduation rates, in isolation, appear to be gaining ascendancy as the national measure of higher education success," according to the campaign's website. "A more fruitful direction would recognize that educational success, like human health, is a complex systemic process that requires a rich data picture (of both qualitative and quantitative measures) for full assessment."

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