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Culture & Religion

Liberal Arts Colleges Continue To Decline In Number

A new study says that more colleges are dramatically redefining themselves away from the liberal arts model, with potentially dire consequences for higher education overall.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What’s the Latest Development?

A recent study follows up on a question first addressed in another study published over 20 years earlier: What’s happening to liberal arts colleges? In it, professor and administrator David Breneman focused on the state of 212 liberal arts institutions around the country. The new study, led by Michigan State University professor Roger Baldwin, reveals that only 130 of those colleges still qualify as having a liberal arts focus. This represents a 39 percent decrease from 1990.

What’s the Big Idea?

A small number of schools closed or were merged into larger universities, but a larger number have redefined themselves into career-oriented institutions where students seek degrees in professions like nursing and business. The study’s authors argue that, despite the perceived diminishing value of a liberal arts education, leaders and policymakers must fight to retain it. “We should renew and reinvigorate these valuable institutions before liberal arts colleges disappear from the higher education landscape or shrink to the status of a minor educational enclave that serves only the elite.

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