The News Tribune: COLLEGES: The rest of the higher ed story

Letters to the Editor
Letter by Steve Gunderson, Washington, D.C.
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July 30, 2013

Your editorial on postsecondary education (TNT, 7-29) uses hyperbole and uninformed generalizations to put down a specific group of students and institutions while failing to offer solutions or constructive concepts.

The bipartisan bill, the Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act, was introduced by Reps. John Kline, Virginia Foxx and Alcee Hastings. It has received significant support from many institutions across all of postsecondary education, including  the American Council on Education and the Association of American Universities.

Our institutions are as much defined by our students as anything else; your editorial makes passing mention of this fact. We serve the new traditional student, these students are often over 25, have no financial support from parents, work full time or part time and/or are single parents. As a result, 86 percent of our students receive some type of need-based student aid.

When it comes to outcomes, our institutions outperform our peers with a 62 percent graduation rate at two-year institutions compared to 20 percent at public institutions and 51 percent at private nonprofits.

Our institutions provide an important contribution to the economic engine in Washington. While we enroll only 5 percent of the students in the state, our graduates represent nearly a third of all allied health graduates and communications technology graduates. We also employ more than 2,400 dedicated faculty and staff in the state.

Instead of looking down on one type of institution, let’s find a way to work together to close the skills gap that remains between postsecondary education and careers.

(Gunderson is president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities.)
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