Research Priorities for Broad-Access Higher Education

Three Ideas for Broad-Access Higher Education
A report on the conference, “Mapping Broad-Access Higher Education”, Stanford University, 1-2 December 2011

Scholarly attention to US higher education has been directed largely to schools with selective admissions. Yet these schools educate only a tiny portion of all college students. In light of the Obama administration’s ambitious new goals for college attainment, it is important for scholars to shift their attention to colleges and universities with essentially open admissions: broad-access schools. These schools educate the vast majority of college graduates and are the only ones capable of producing greater numbers of graduates at reasonable cost. But broad-access schools do not currently realize their full potential to produce well-educated citizens.

If broad-access schools are to serve the national commitment to expanded college attainment, they must be supported by research that:

  • Replaces prevailing appraisals of institutional quality based on selectivity with new ones based on access
  • Focuses attention on the organization of broad-access schools to identify efficient levers for improving performance
  • Explains the complex relationships between broad-access schools and their social contexts
  • Clearly measures what is learned in college and how learning occurs

Our goal is to assemble scholars and policymakers from a wide range of fields to specify and pursue this research.

Our work is supported with funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Mapping Broad-Access Higher Education
December 1-2, 2011 - Stanford University