North Texas Daily

In higher education, trends are friends

In higher education, trends are friends

March 27
22:10 2013

Education reform was once the policy panacea technology companies could invest in as being a solution to fix the growing skills and knowledge gap of what students possess and what they should possess to work at technology firms.

A recent change in policy investments, from reforms in education to reforms in immigration, would seem to indicate that firms are viewing that pursuing talent from overseas markets would generate a greater return on their investment.

This is a troubling situation, but it is also a situation that can be resolved by doing the needed amount of heavy lifting.

A solution to the lack of prepared students is to increase the number of courses that match what firms are looking for. This solution requires that:

1) Colleges and departments know what the trends are.

2) That universities have instructors who are qualified to teach trending courses.

3) That there exists an infrastructure for the courses.

4) That there exists students who wish to take the courses.

Understanding the trends requires a two-way street of communication between universities and companies.

Companies would make it known to universities what their expectations are, and universities would indicate their available resources. The communication of expectations would allow departments and companies to better align strategic plans.

Universities recruit according to strategic plans. Having a strategic plan that is informed by trends would facilitate the hiring of trend-competent faculty.

If it is the case there are no trend-competent faculty, then additional efforts, such as hiring directly from the consulting company instructors to teach courses, and the sharing of trend-competent instructors between universities, should be considered.

If students don’t have access to laboratories that match what is currently seen in companies, then these students will be ill-prepared for professional work.

A university need not have elaborate laboratories and libraries available on campus. The creation and maintaining of partnerships with surrounding companies and universities that involve the sharing of resources would allow for more comprehensive education services. Students would have access to an infrastructure and knowledge base is better able to keep up with current trends.

If, at the end of the day, students don’t care about the education offered by universities, then the efforts taken would have been for naught.

This is an issue that is larger than the economic concern of the skills and knowledge gap: this is a problem derived from the lack of imagination amongst not only youths, but also amongst our policy makers.
General obstinance amongst policy makers has come to detract from the overall quality of education. The state of conflict is what youths are coming to accept as the only way of operating.

What is it that makes other nations better able to address issues in education? Maybe we should do as companies are doing and recruit from overseas policy makers who are better able to craft effective education policy.

Eric Izuora is a public administration graduate student. He can be reached at ericizuora@my.unt.edu.

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