President Obama, making the case that “education is an economic issue,” called on Monday for the United States to produce an additional eight million college graduates by 2020 — enough for the nation to reclaim its title as the country with the highest percentage of college graduates.
The United States gave up its spot as the world leader about 10 years ago, as students in nations like South Korea, Canada and Russia began to surpass their American counterparts. Now the United States ranks 12th among 36 developed nations in college graduation rates, a trend Mr. Obama said he intended to reverse.
“Over a third of America’s college students, and over half our minority students, don’t earn a degree, even after six years,” Mr. Obama told a an audience of cheering students at the University of Texas here. “So we don’t just need to open the doors of college to more Americans. We need to make sure they stick with it through graduation. That is critical.”
He added, “That’s how we’ll lead the global economy in this century, just like we did in the last century.”