Education experts from across the globe will gather in the Adirondack hamlet of Essex later this week to discuss how to get more low-income students to graduate from college.
College for Every Student is an organization that works with rural and urban schools to help underprivileged and low-income students gain access to college. The group has partnered with Trinity College in Dublin to host a global summit this Wednesday and Thursday. “The Galileo Effect: Transforming College Opportunities for Low Income Students by 2025" will explore the issues and challenges in meeting a goal of ensuring an additional 20 to 30 million students graduate from college by 2025. College for Every Student President and CEO Rick Dalton says 2025 is a marker that many are discussing because significant changes are expected over the next decade. “As matter of fact we believe that there will be more changes in the next ten years than we’ve seen in the last one hundred years in colleges and in education.”
Dalton says educators must assess everything from teaching methods to student economies to assure access to college. “I believe that college education will be so different that it will be hard to recognize. And then if you look at what’s happening today and you see that we’re not doing a good job educating under served low income kids, and here we face this unrecognizable institution in 2025 we need to figure out what college will look like. We need to figure out how to accommodate low income students so that they get college degrees. And this is not just a problem in the United States. It really is taking place across the globe.”
CFES is partnering with Trinity to host the international meeting. Trinity Access Programmes Director Cliona Hannon explains that she and Dalton met several years ago and found that the challenges surrounding getting low-income students into any higher education institution around the world are similar. “For example in the U.K., actually, the ticket price for getting into a selective institution is higher than the U.S. when you take into account the financial assistance structure. In Ireland we have now the second highest level of higher education fees in Europe. And then the key problem that has emerged from the U.S. around student debt - that’s being reflected in Australia, in Chile, in the U.K. where there have been large scale student riots objecting to the enormous debt they’re taking on based on future earnings.”
Hannon continues that the stumbling blocks are similar across the world, although education structures differ. “There is a much greater challenge in the U.S. around students who are progressing into fairly average higher education institutions having to take out very considerable loans. In Europe the fees, or the loans required, apart from in the U.K., are not exceptionally high. There’s a very strong public funding of higher education. Never-the-less there still are significant numbers of students from low-income backgrounds who don’t make it to good institutions in Europe because of other issues not related to funding.”
Member of the British Parliament Lord David Puttnam was an independent producer of films such as The Killing Fields, Chariots of Fire and Midnight Express before he retired from film production to devote his work to education policy. Lord Puttnam has been working with the Trinity outreach program. As a keynote speaker at the conference, he plans to highlight technology in education.. “I hope to tell the attendees there are a number of realities. One of which is that inevitably with technology the gap between the people with the opportunity to acquire this type of education, that gap will stretch before it will narrow. But I think the bigger message, certainly for the U.S., I’ll give it in the form of a statistic. 74% of all parents in Asia are actively saving for their children’s university education. It just isn’t true in western Europe. And I don’t think it’s true in the U.S. The jobs those young people are going for are our kids jobs. They’re your kids jobs, they’re my kid jobs.”
Willsboro Central School Superintendent Stephen Broadwell is excited to have experts from across the world travel to his school district. He says knowledge now is ubiquitous and students must know how to use it and become innovative thinkers. Broadwell wants to hear about education philosophies from across the world and discover how he can integrate those ideas at Willsboro. “One of the things that schools are facing is technology, technology, technology and how can we change in education to embrace and integrate the technological advances of our current learners. We are constantly trying to re-invent ourselves in schools to keep up with the technology that’s occurring in their world. That’s certainly one of the things that has to be explored because it’s just continually exploding in their world and it’s just exponentially increasing.”
Additional keynote speakers include Singularity University founder Salim Ismail, Harvard University Dean of Admissions Dr. William Fitzsimmons and UK Director of the Office for Fair Access to Education Professor Les Ebdon.
The two day summit will result in a white paper to identify key global issues and ways to implement strategies and solutions.