President Obama visits Binghamton University

Joshua Ludzki/WSKG
August 23, 2013

It was a much smaller crowd in Binghamton than those Obama addressed in Buffalo and Syracuse, but they still made plenty of noise when the President took the stage.

He re-capped his plan to lower the cost of college education through the implementation of a ranking system that would reward universities that showing initiative in reducing costs and raising educational outcomes.

But, eventually Obama took a break from talking, and allowed students and faculty to join the conversation in a true town hall style meeting  and questions from the floor. This one from a computer science professor.

“My question is related about the quality of future higher education. As you know, many universities are trying their best to provide the best value by doing better with less, but the challenges are real and they’re getting tougher and tougher as the budget cuts are getting tougher and tougher.”

Obama answered that he doesn’t see a conflict between quality and paying attention to costs for students.

He says there are many ways schools could be innovative in their approach to bringing costs down, and he’s got a few ideas of his own.

“This is probably controversial to say, but what the heck, I’m in my second term so I can say it. I believe, for example that law schools would probably be wise to think about being two years instead of three years.”

He says once students have the essential knowledge, they’d be better off getting real experience in some areas, than paying for more courses.

Eventually, Obama hopes to drum up enough congressional backing to tie federal student aid to this proposed college ranking system.

He says it’s time to funnel tax dollars to colleges that innovate and offer better value rather than basing aid on enrolment, regardless of actual graduation rates.