A quick overview of College Disrupted by Ryan Craig

Back on 6/18/2016, I posted the following to my old blog, which I’m slowly moving to my new WordPress blog. At that time, I had just finished reading College Disrupted.

College Disrupted: the Great Unbundling of Higher Education
by Ryan Craig
copyright 2015

Here’s his list of the problems he finds with higher education in the US (p. 146):

  1. Unsustainable cost structure driven by expenditures outside the classroom.
  2. Unaffordable tuition and fees, and uncertain return on investment given the employment market for graduates.
  3. Contributing to the generational wealth gap — now wider than ever.
  4. Locking in social inequality rather than breaking it down.
  5. Arbitrary approach to rationing state subsidies.
  6. Poor job at providing students with basic numeracy and quantitative problem-solving skills.
  7. Poor job at providing graduates with career direction and a sense of how their education relates to future employment.
  8. Lack of consistent and meaningful metrics for student outcomes.
  9. General resistance to innovation.

And, here’s what he thinks non-elite universities should do to make it easier for them to offer affordable degree programs. This list goes from easy changes to hard (p. 138):

  1. One-third of all students switch institutions at least once before graduation, and among low-income students, it’s over 40 percent. Leading colleges and universities will improve affordability by removing the question of credit transfer and acceptance from faculty and departments. This is a strategic issue that must be dealt with at the institutional level or higher.
  2. Flip the classroom; institute dynamic classrooms and increase on-the-ground faculty productivity.
  3. Develop online courses priced below on-ground courses for all textbook-based large lecture classes.
  4. Shift scholarships back to need-based from merit-based.
  5. Increase outsourcing of functions that are not core strengths, including marketing, enrollment, student support, and program delivery to nontraditional students.
  6. Dis-aggregate the role of faculty to achieve development and delivery efficiencies. Specialist faculty will develop courses. Different faculty will provide instruction. Another group will provide assessment services. Yet another will handle advisement and support. Western Governors University pioneered this model; other are already following.
  7. Migrate from a seat-time model to a competency-based model.
  8. Move online courses to a self-paced model.
  9. Innovate as much with student acquisition as with program delivery. The cost savings opportunity for non-elite institutions in the areas of lead generation and enrollment are nearly as large as in program delivery.
  10. No more trophy facilities: Spending must be directed to what happens in the classroom rather than on what’s easy to admire. Similarly, athletics, extracurricular activities and research must serve learning. If they can’t be shown to do so in measurable ways, students should be permitted to opt-out of the deluxe university experience, i.e. these costs should not be included in tuition.

He notes that

“Nearly all of these changes would hurt universities in the rankings. So before embarking on any of these (let alone all of them), colleges and universities will have to take a good, long look in the mirror and decide to make the break.”



Reviews of and notes on College Disrupted

Abstract of College Disrupted
by Guilbert C. Hentschke, Dean and Professor Emeritus

Higher education isn’t in crisis
by Janet Napolitano president of the University of California

Review of College Disrupted
by Sajith Pai

Outline of College Disrupted
by Sajith Pai


21st Century Credentials: Telling the Story of the Whole Student

This a summary of a meeting on university credentials kicked off by Ryan Craig, managing partner of University Ventures. It started with Craig making these two points:

  1. “We’re beyond the ‘take our word for it’ era – there is a loss of faith in the greater community about what higher education does.”
  2. “Technology has changed the game – learning is ubiquitous and is pushing higher education toward unbundling the degree.”

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