Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Higher ed becoming a joke: Column

May 19, 2014 by Glenn Harlan Reynolds

As college graduates around the country fling their caps into the air, college and university administrators are ending the year in a less positive state. It has been a tough year for higher education in America, and it’s not especially likely that next year will be a lot better. As an industry, higher education is beset with problems, problems that for the most part aren’t being addressed.

One set of problems is economic. With tuitions climbing, and graduates’ salaries stagnant, students (and parents) are becoming less willing to pay top dollar. This has caused some schools — especially expensive private institutions that lack first-class reputations — to face real hardships. Yeshiva University’s bonds have been downgraded to the status of junk. Credit downgrades have also hit several elite liberal arts colleges. Other private schools, such as Quinnipiac College, are actually laying off faculty. Georgetown in Kentucky cut faculty by 20%.

Even fancy schools such as Harvard and Dartmouth have seen applications decline, with Dartmouth’s dropping 14% last year, a truly staggering number.

It’s no picnic for public institutions either. “There have been 21 downgrades of public colleges and universities this year but no upgrades,” reported Inside Higher Ed. It’s gotten so bad that schools are even closing their gender studies centers, a once-sacrosanct kind of spending.

The decline in enrollment seems to be slowing, but the long-term problem remains: With costs growing, and post-graduation incomes stagnant or worse, students (and parents) are growing more reluctant to take on the extensive debt that is required to attend many private, and some public, institutions.

That is only made worse by the decline in higher education’s image, damage that is mostly self-inflicted. As Twitter wag IowaHawk japes: “If I understand college administrators correctly, colleges are hotbeds of racism and rape that everyone should be able to attend.”

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bias, bigotry, budget, bureaucracy, columns, crisis, diversity, economy, education, nanny state, philosophy

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Filed under: bias, bigotry, budget, bureaucracy, columns, crisis, diversity, economy, education, nanny state, philosophy

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