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What to expect from Barack Obama on higher education?

In the midst of the world financial crisis and its economic implications, the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the global debate on climate change, it is not surprising that higher education did not surface as a major issue in the 2008 American presidential race. However, the President-elect Barack Obama did touch on the issue several times in the course of the past two years, the following directions being outlined, although an official plan has not yet been defined:

  • The need to address accessibility of US higher education institutions and to make college education more affordable. Obama expressed his intentions to establish a direct loan programme, where the US Department of Education is the lender, in order to improve the students’ direct access to credit, and to simplify the procedure for college loans application.
  • The need to financially support community colleges to develop programmes to help their students develop skills that are relevant for the business sector.
  • The need to expand the investments in science and technology research, given its role for economic progress.
  • The need to support affirmative action, as to cut the educational and economic gaps minorities are sometimes confronted with in the US.

Although much of the responsibility and the initiative for action remain up to the individual states, the expectations from Barack Obama on tertiary education run high, particularly as it is for the first time in the American history that the President and the Vice-President, along with their spouses, have a professional background in higher education.

Barack Obama