I recall a meeting with education officials when I was first elected and one of their key measurements of performance was that students were staying in school longer. I asked how this related to their capability upon graduation and what they did after graduating and I was told: “we do not track that.”
We are missing the forest for the trees when we do not understand the results of our efforts. Enrollment in universities is down for two reasons: one is the declining population, the other is the inability to achieve the anticipated benefits upon graduation.
Free tuition for public funded universities and colleges will not change this reality.
Simply subsidizing undesirable performance will not solve the problem.
The only thing that will change this reality is having each of the components of our education system work together to create solutions to address the skills gap.
Politicians need to work together with education stakeholders and with industry stakeholders to seek agreement on what and when specific results can be achieved. They must and do this while comparing best practices nationally and internationally. Then they should get out of the way and let the dedicated professionals get the results.