Cost, Commitment, and Attainment in Higher Education: An International ComparisonReport as inadecuate

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Jobs for the Future

Jobs for the Future commissioned this report to provide an international perspective on the productivity agenda of Making Opportunity Affordable, a multi-year initiative focused on increasing productivity within U.S. higher education, particularly at two-year and four-year public colleges and universities. The report also has implications for the community college improvement goals of Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count. The authors compare and analyze data on: (1) Cost, the amount that countries spend on tertiary education per student; (2) Commitment, the share of GDP a country spends on tertiary education; and (3) Attainment, the share of working-age adults holding a tertiary education degree. The report suggests three approaches that the United States should consider to achieve higher attainment at sustainable levels of costs and commitment: (1) Focus more resources and attention on community colleges; (2) Pay more attention to developing and implementing strategies to improve completion rates at both two-year and four-year institutions; and (3) Consider increases in enrollments as a means for moderating costs per student and improving productivity. (Contains 20 endnotes, 5 figures and 8 tables.)

Descriptors: Higher Education, Community Colleges, Public Colleges, Costs, Comparative Analysis, Foreign Countries, Educational Finance, Educational Attainment, Graduation Rate, Educational Strategies, Enrollment, Expenditure per Student

Jobs for the Future. 88 Broad Street 8th Floor, Boston, MA 02110. Tel: 617-728-4446; Fax: 617-728-4857; e-mail: info[at]; Web site:

Author: Hauptman, Arthur M.; Kim, Young


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