Monday, September 13, 2010

Inside the college bubble

Deliver $$$ here.
People are writing more and more about the rising cost of going to college and the debt students are incurring the pay for it. Some leading thinkers believe we're witnessing a bubble that will sooner rather than later burst.

A new book, Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids and What We Can Do About It, follows the money.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, authors Andrew Hacker of Queens College and Claudia Dreifus of Columbia University, have this to say:
If you look at how that added revenue is being spent, it's hard to argue that students are getting a lot of extra value for all that extra money. Why? Colleges aren't spending their extra revenues, which we calculate to be about $40 billion a year nationally over 1980 revenues, in ways that most benefit students.
Universities are spending more on athletics, teacher salaries and administrators.
Since 1980, the number of administrators per student at colleges has about doubled; on most campuses their numbers now match the number of faculty. Here are some of their titles: senior specialist of assessment; director for learning communities; assistant dean of students for substance education; director of knowledge access services.
And many college presidents have seen their salaries double in inflation-adjusted dollars.
Carleton's president today gets 2.4 times more than the president did 19 years ago; at NYU, pay has risen by 2.7 times. Measured another way, it takes the tuitions of 31 Vanderbilt students to cover their president's $1.2-million annual stipend. We have yet to see evidence that lofting more money to the top enhances the quality of instruction.
"The travesty of high tuition," the authors conclude "is that most of the extra charges aren't going for education. Administrators, athletics and amenities get funded, while history departments are denied new assistant professors. A whole generation of young Americans is being shortchanged, largely by adults who have carved out good careers in places we call colleges."

It's a bubble we all contribute to through taxes, tuition payments and student loans.

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