Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Problem of Higher Education Financing

Higher education in the United States faces a crisis of its own making.  Historically, higher education was mostly financed by taxpayers because such education was considered a "public good." The idea is similar to that behind public elementary education-- we are all better off if everyone is literate. We receive "externalities," benefits conferred upon us through no effort of our own.  But, this seems completely ridiculous in the context of modern higher education in the US.

How does the average citizen benefit from fancy swimming pools, absurdly elaborate dormitory rooms and incredibly modern and comfortable classrooms, that they can never use.  Aren't students themselves, as opposed to the community at large, the main beneficiaries of the modern Club-Med form of higher education?

The huge influx of money into the elite colleges in the last two decades was more than these schools could reasonably find ways to spend -- so the schools invented new needs.  The proliferation of centers, mostly political in nature, and the almost unbelievable expansion of administration bureaucracy, unrelated to the education mission has ballooned costs.  Education, as normally defined, actually costs less, much less, in real terms today than it did two decades ago.  In fact, with the expansion of the internet, much of real education is today completely free.

Meanwhile, as a perusal of any college newspaper will show, many students have turned away from education in the pursuit of various political agendae.  Many students portray themselves as "victims" of a system that provides them all of these luxuries at a subsidized cost.  Indeed, they think the average taxpayer, whose children don't attend these luxurious campuses, should foot the bill for the mostly one-percenters who, today, make up the bulk of the student body at most elite colleges.

This is the ultimate in "reverse Robin Hood" as wealthy college students demand that average taxpayers foot the bill for their luxurious lifestyle.

There is absolutely no reason for higher education to be a Club-Med experience.  Higher education should be about education.  If that were the case, it would cost next to nothing.

1 comment:

Joseph said...

Failed to understand why government is not at all involved in bringing down the cost of education. On the lines of international universities, loans should be accessible to all who have held admission on merit. The terms and conditions can advice worked out to create it feasible for all but funding should not be the restraint for impacting quality higher education to the deserving.