President Joseph E. Aoun’s recent opinion piece on CNN.com is generating buzz as part of a growing national conversation about the value of higher education. Taking on the controversial proposal of PayPal founder Peter Thiel, who has urged students to drop out of college in exchange for money, Aoun argues for the many practical and intangible benefits of higher education.
Since President Aoun’s op-ed was published on June 10, three others have joined the debate. In their own opinion pieces, Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School, Henry Eyring of BYU-Idaho, and successful entrepreneur Brian Forde, each make strong cases about the value of a college education.
On Friday, President Aoun was a guest on NECN Business to discuss the issue. In the televised interview, Aoun makes the case that college generates significant return on investment for graduates, regardless of course of study. He also cites many examples of innovation and entrepreneurship taking place at universities — an aspect of higher education that Thiel says is lacking.
Aoun also puts the current debate in a global context, noting that other countries are investing heavily in higher education as a way to compete on a global stage.
“Today, America’s strongest global competitors are doubling down on the same strategy. In China, the number of students enrolled in higher education more than quintupled over the last decade. India has established thousands of new colleges in recent years. The United States was the first nation to expand college access beyond the elites and make it available on a mass basis. Today, we rank 14th in the world in college graduation. To reclaim our leadership, everyone needs to do their part.”