President Barack Obama was in Austin Monday, speaking before a group of several hundred University of Texas students, faculty and alumni. In his brief speech, Obama called higher education “the economic issue of our time,” pointing to statistics that show that people without college degrees currently face an unemployment rate double that for college graduates.
The President also pointed out the disparity between graduation rates for minority students versus enrollment rates. In one generation, the U.S. has fallen from first place in the world to 12th as it pertains to college graduation rates. Student debt has also increased 25 percent in the past five years, Obama said.
“We’re a better country than that; we need to act like we’re a better country than that,” Obama said about the dismal statistics. He said his administration’s goal is to boost graduation rates, make college more affordable and to make financial aid paperwork less confusing.
Obama also touted some of his administration’s accomplishments, including ending combat operations end in Iraq this month, a promise made on the campaign trail. Also, parents will now be able to keep their children on their insurance until age 26.
The President came also prepared with crowd-pleasing lines like, “This is the United States of America. Like the Texas Longhorns, you play for first. We play for first.”
Watch the speech below, courtesy of UT. There were a few speakers before the President. Skip to the 13-minute mark in the video to go directly to Obama’s speech.