News From Terre Haute, Indiana


April 28, 2013

Higher education completion rates questioned

TERRE HAUTE — Spring is really here. Baseball is being played, the Cubs are already tragic and Faye of the Forest reappeared on the back deck. She was parked on the railing as I sat down to write this column.

“What’s your topic this week?” she asked.

“I could write about the Higher Education Commission and the campaign to get more students to complete their courses of study,” I answered.

“You mean the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE)?” Faye said. “I never thought of them as being for higher education, only about it.”

I admitted by a grunt I did not understand her remark.

Faye continued: “They crunch numbers and make pronouncements, but I don’t see them as advocates for higher education in Indiana. They have been around since 1971 and I cannot point to anything they have done to advance the cause of higher education in the state.

“The commission has a vague charge to coordinate the missions of the universities with the needs of the state and to make recommendations about their budgets to the General Assembly. But does anyone listen to them?”

“I think,” I said, “they are being listened to these days.”

“Oh,” Faye said, “the completion bit. They want students to complete their degrees in some magical amount of time and for schools to limit increases in tuition costs. That’s a package of unsliced bologna if I ever saw one.”

“You don’t agree that students are better off if they complete their degrees?” I asked.

“Of course they are,” she said. “As long as employers are blind to what is behind the certificate or degree, that piece of paper is worth money.

“But completion of a course of study without obtaining the necessary knowledge is a fraud. It is likely to be a dominant fraud when schools are pressured to put their stamps of approval on unqualified graduates.”

“You are questioning the integrity of the schools and the intelligence of the students and their parents,” I charged.

“Yes,” she admitted. “Second rate becomes the accepted norm when funding from the state is tied to completion rates. Unless there is an outside party certifying the quality of the learning, fraud is to be expected.”

“You mean an accrediting agency like AACSB (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business)?” I asked.

“No,” Faye shot back. “Traditionally, AACSB has focused on inputs rather than outcomes.  They don’t provide a uniform, unambiguous set of standards.”

“So you want testing before certification or degree granting?” I insisted.

“Yes, if possible,” she said. “But mainly I deplore the state micro-managing the schools. They treat higher education the same way they treat primary and secondary education.

“The legislature cuts the money to the schools and then complains about the need those institutions have to raise funds. Taxes or tuitions rise and the legislature complains about this necessary consequence of their own budgeting.”

“So what do you want?” I asked frustrated.

“If completion rates are a problem, I want evidence to that effect,” she said. “We’ve had ICHE declaring a falling sky before as when they got on a kick about the so-called brain drain. Where’s the evidence of harm to the state?”

As ever, when Faye departed, I was left with much to think about.      

Morton Marcus is an independent economist, writer and speaker. Contact him at


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Raw: Israel, Gaza Exchange Rocket Fire Joy Fills Streets of Cleveland As LeBron Returns Israel Widens Attack As Gaza Death Toll Rises Raw: Stunning Timelapse of WC Final Host City Raw: Militants, Israelis Exchange Rocket Fire Raw: Airstrike Creates Chaos on Gaza Streets Raw: Sirens Blare Over Jerusalem Texas Shooting Suspect Collapses in Court Raw: Rebel Leader Weds in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Airstrike Creates Chaos on Gaza Streets Police: Prostitute Linked to 2nd Death Diaz and Segel Strip Off for 'Sex Tape' Arizona Mom of Missing Baby Released From Prison Death Toll Tops 100 As Israel Offense Continues Proposed Bill to Regulate NY Costumed Characters WH: LeBron's Move a 'Powerful Statement' Raw: Protesters, Israeli Security Forces Clash Ana Ortiz on 'Devious Maids' Finale Man Flees Police in World Cup Scalping Scheme UN Calls for Israeli-Palestinian Ceasefire
NDN Video
Cleveland welcomes home LeBron Houston Killer Collapses in Court When Read Capital Murder Charges for Allegedly Killing Family of Six Worst Valet Ever Wrecks $500K Lamborghini Glee Star Becca Tobin's Boyfriend Matt Bendik Found Dead in Hotel Aerial fish restocking in Utah ScarJo Channels Marilyn Monroe Obama Responds to Hecklers on Immigration Tiny Hamsters Who Ate Burritos are Back for a Tiny Hedgehog's Party Watch Kelly Ripa Get Soaked! 'Referee' Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Faux Pas in NYC 2014 Emmy Nominees: 8 Snub Shockers Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino 7 Infamous Sports Blowouts Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash Emmy Nominations: What to Watch For 'Game of Thrones' Leads 66th Emmy Awards Nominations Photographic 'Proof' That LeBron Is Leaving Miami - @TheBuzzeronFOX Elephant Pool Party at The Oregon Zoo Must-See! Berry and Fallon Form Human Hamster Wheel

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010