Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success

December 2, 2020

Postsecondary Success Notes | What do the election results mean for higher ed?


We have just been through one of the most memorable elections of our lifetime. And however you voted, it is truly inspiring to see record voter turnout in the middle of a global pandemic.

Now the questions start. What do the results mean for higher education? What issues will dominate the agenda come January?

There is a lot we don’t yet know. But there is a lot we can do to signal what matters in a time of transition and uncertainty.

Put students first. That sounds obvious, but a lot of our policies – institutional, state, and federal – don’t reflect the realities of today’s students. Especially the realities of this time, when students are balancing the demands of family, work, and life, all while trying to stay safe. This means things like making credit transfer easier and more transparent and improving our advising systems.

Equity is the goal, not a project. As elected leaders face tough choices in the months ahead, it is on us to make sure that the voices of Black, Latino, Indigenous students, and students from low-income backgrounds are part of every decision to ensure that equitable opportunity is at the core of our efforts.

Throw out the old playbooks. Keep reading for more on this, but COVID-19 has taught us that some things need to change when it comes to policy. For example, the “boom-bust” cycle of state funding for colleges and universities hurts students. Cuts may be unavoidable, but they can be better targeted.

The new year will bring challenges and choices. Let’s come together to make sure that our students are at the center of those choices.

Patrick Methvin