Unwarranted Stigma: Economic Impact of Community College Education

Unwarranted Stigma: Economic Impact of Community College Education

Darryl M. Tyndorf Jr. (Aurora University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5861-3.ch014
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Investment in higher education is essential to improve the knowledge and skills of a country's labor force for economic growth. Higher education is a dynamic context with various institution types. However, the higher education market and research has generally suggested a single higher education institution, university education. Such single entity promotion has informed policies to increase university enrollments and completions resulting in a belief that universities are prestigious institutions that provide greater economic growth while stigmatizing community colleges as less prestigious and of little or no value to economic growth. University models have provided higher education to selected members of society which has not met the global demand for education or improved economic growth. This chapter will demonstrate that community colleges are becoming a higher education policy focus for their ability to provide flexible, short cycle education, and new research demonstrates their short- and medium-term economic impact. Thus, the community college stigma is unwarranted.
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Increasing the number of students enrolled and completing higher education has become a key initiative in many governmental policies and non-governmental organization initiatives due to a belief that investment in higher education promotes greater economic growth. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has developed initiatives focusing on global higher education enrollments and completion, especially in developing countries (UNESCO, 2010, 2014). In the United Kingdom, The Browne Report emphasized the role of advancing domestic higher education attainment to improve the country’s economic growth (Browne Review, 2010). During Barack Obama’s tenure as President of the United States, higher education was a necessity for all members of society and essential to the economic growth, economic prosperity, and international competition of the United States (U.S.) economy. Former President Obama’s sentiments were echoed by many politicians and carried on through the next political election campaign by United States Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders. These higher education initiatives increased global demand for higher education around the world, especially in developing countries and low-socioeconomic areas of developed countries (Hanushek, 2013). However, such domestic and international pushes for increased numbers attending and completing higher education emphasized or implied increasing the numbers in university education institutions, meaning focusing on bachelor’s degrees and above.

Initiatives to expand access to higher education have focused on the university education models that are elite centers providing education to selected individuals that meet strict guidelines. Governmental and non-governmental initiatives have tended to focus on the university level of education due to their prestige (Bashir, 2007; Castro, Bernasconi & Verdisco, 2001; Roggow, 2014; Wang & Seggie, 2013; Woods, 2013; Zhang & Hagedorn, 2014). The elite status of university education has come to fruition due to the prestige associated with the curriculum focusing on theoretical frameworks that generate new knowledge and their active research agendas (Castro et al., 2001; Psacharopoulos, 1985; Roggow, 2014; Schroeder & Hatton, 2006; Wang & Seggie, 2013; Zhang & Hageddorn, 2014), which are deemed to provide greater returns to investment for the local economy (Aghion, Boustan, Hoxby, & Vandenbussche, 2009). Policymakers have emphasized university education because it is believed that higher levels of education lead to greater economic growth, and universities provide the highest level of education.

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