#rsrh Higher Education Bubble Watch, 12/13/2011 edition.

(Via Instapundit) So, educators are worried about the higher education bubble.  OK, that’s not true.  What they’re worried about is that that the higher education bubble has reached the point where it’s beginning to affect the schools themselves: the available money supply is starting to dry up.  Still, that situation is making some schools so worried, in fact, that they’re talking about it amongst themselves and looking for answers.

Well.  Some answers.  Read the whole thing and what strikes you is what is not being discussed as possible solutions:

  • There was no discussion – possibly not even an acknowledgement – that our current student loan system is currently designed to reward bad loans for both the universities and the lending agencies.  Or that said system is a major contributor to both higher education prices and onerous, immediate debt burdens on the young.
  • There was also no analysis of what the universities are teaching; specifically, what they want to teach – and how that compares to what our society needs them to teach.  Put bluntly: right now we’re overstocked on liberal arts majors, could use more engineers – and really, really, really need more welders, electricians, and mechanics.  It is, however, considered at best impolite (and at worst, prejudiced/racist) to suggest that we place more people into “working class” career tracks.  But, heck, there’s nothing actually stopping a university letting a student major in English lit and minor in, say, auto repair – which is to say, having them get the equivalent of an AA or a certificate degree in the latter.
  • Needless to say, there was even more of a lack of an analysis on how the universities are teaching. Specifically, whether they’re teaching the latest fashionable liberal shibboleth instead of, say, how to write a coherent sentence in English.  Which leads nicely to the last point…
  • There was a lot of complaining about how state legislatures are turning off the fiscal spigots.  What was carefully not brought up was the hint of a whisper of a suggestion of a intimation that at least some of this may have been due to largely conservative/Republican legislatures deciding that it was impractical to continue to subsidize largely liberal/Democratic local universities.

So what are they thinking of doing?  Well, some possible solutions offered were to: try to yank more money out of alumni and other donors; automate everything that they can (translation: fire as many people who aren’t tenured professors as possible); raise tuition; and create a two-tier system where the more money your dad has, the more you pay in tuition.

Interestingly, that last sentence could actually be summed up in one word, but unfortunately said word is too coarse for public use.


  • Catseye says:

    I have a B.A., it’s in History, a subject that I am convinced is no longer taught. But, at least in my favor it is not the degree I was going for, or wanted, it’s a consolation prize a good one that has enriched my life. While I was in College my Dad got cancer, I wanted him to see me graduate. I was under no illusions I PAID MY OWN WAY, and graduated with no debt. Life isn’t fair, and anybody who tries to tell you differently is trying to sell you something. The joke in my youth was a B.A. degree helped you to be philosophical about the fact you would never make any money.

  • Cameron says:

    There are a lot of classes that could be taught through universities via computer. Just have a central facility where students can come in and test (Or subcontract out to companies that handle online testing). For classes with lab requirements, I am willing to bet that a lot of companies would fall over themselves to step up and offer facilities.

    Sure, you might miss out on the “whole college experience” but the reduced expenses would go a long way towards keeping universities running.

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