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Colleges Urged to Be Entrepreneurial to Improve Learning

The challenges on college campuses today are so great that administrators need to think like entrepreneurs to make lasting reforms to improve student learning and completion, according to a new report by a panel of education leaders and policy experts.

College 2.0: An entrepreneurial Approach to Reforming Higher Education just released by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, calls on higher education to bring innovative practices to campuses and focus more on strategies that encourage productivity.

"Notwithstanding the strengths of our best research institutions, the shortcomings of many U.S. colleges and universities are significant," the report notes. "There is growing evidence that they need to focus more effectively on student learning, improve completion rates, lower costs, make much better use of technology, boost productivity, improve delivery of instruction for nontraditional students, and take innovations to scale more quickly."

The ideas for reinventing the college system are the result of discussions among 30 education analysts and practitioners at a Kauffman retreat in December. The report calls for various kinds of entrepreneurial intervention, including:

•Give faculty incentives and research money to develop innovative teaching models.

•Reward not only scholarly publishing, but also good teaching.

•Link state funding for higher education with better student outcomes.

•Rethink accreditation, so there are fewer impediments to innovation, and focus on student performance.

•Deregulate online instruction, as long as minimum course-level outcomes are specified.

•Stagger Pell Grants so more money is given to low-income students upon completion than up-front.

•Improve measures of students' success after college in the job market.

•Find ways to take innovative practices to scale to expand campus improvements.

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