US: Colleges are failing in graduation

If you were going to come up with a list of organisations whose failures had done the most damage to the American economy in recent years, you'd probably have to start with the Wall Street firms and regulatory agencies that brought us the financial crisis, writes David Leonhardt for The New York Times. From there, you might move on to Wall Street's fellow bailout recipients in Detroit, the once-Big Three. But I would suggest that the list should also include a less obvious nominee: public universities.

At its top levels, the American system of higher education may be the best in the world. Yet in terms of its core mission - turning teenagers into educated college graduates - much of the system is simply failing.

Only 33% of freshmen who enter the University of Massachusetts, Boston, graduate within six years. Less than 41% graduate from the University of Montana, and 44% from the University of New Mexico. The economist Mark Schneider refers to colleges with such dropout rates as "failure factories", and they are the norm. The US does a good job enrolling teenagers in college, but only half of students end up with a bachelor's degree. Among rich countries, only Italy is worse.
Full report on The New York Times site