cost

A Cautious Word about MOOCs

By J.M. Anderson MOOCs are all the rage. Not a day goes by without someone extolling how they will transform and rescue higher education: they will democratize it; they will revolutionize it; they will make it more affordable. In an essay here yesterday, Richard Vedder outlined their promise of positive impact. At the same time, […]

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Should We Charge Different Fees for Different Majors?

In the first couple weeks of any survey course in the principles of economics, students are taught that prices are determined by the interactions of consumers (demand) and producers (supply). Prices for many things, such as oil, or of common stocks, constantly change with the frequent shifts in the willingness of consumers and producers to […]

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We Don’t Need a Different “Affirmative Action”

On the day the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Fisher v. Texas, a case challenging racial preferences in college admissions, the Wall Street Journal published a piece purporting to give “A Liberal Critique of Racial Preferences.” Author Richard Kahlenberg argued (as he almost always does) in favor of changing “affirmative action” to a system […]

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Three Pell Grant Scams

Many politicians, including senators such as Tom Harkin and Dick Durbin, have grown indignant over the allegedly vast amounts of higher education money captured by for-profit institutions via the Pell Grant program. In fact, they consider this something of a scam. The truth, of course, is that throughout its history, including now, the vast majority […]

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Some Hope for Higher Ed Reform

The current conversation on higher ed reform coming is unusually platitudinous even for an election year. This was clearest earlier this year during the battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on the proposed federal student loan interest rate, a subject fairly inconsequential in larger problem of sky-high college costs. In his Democratic nomination acceptance […]

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Wake Us Gently–We’re Students

It probably had to happen. The conversion of campuses into luxurious spa-like retreats started at elite and well-heeled institutions and has now spread to smaller, lesser-known colleges. The newest student residence at Saint Leo University in Florida houses nap pods, an electronic gaming area with four flat-screen televisions, a workout area and an arcade complete […]

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The No-Art Art History Textbook

In a story helpfully marked “Not the Onion,” Gawker reports that Toronto’s Ontario College of Art and Design is requiring students to purchase a $180 art history textbook that has no images of art at all. The father of one student says the publisher of the book, Global Visual and Material Culture: Prehistory to 1800, […]

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Real Costs and Sticker Price

Concordia University in St. Paul made news by cutting regular tuition costs by a hefty 33.7 percent–$10,000–leaving students to pay $19,700 if they receive no assistance or discounts. But the reduction disguises a fact true at Concordia and at most every other private schools: up to half of undergraduates don’t pay the full fee.  At […]

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Should We Unionize the Grad Students?

On September 12, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing that focused on the subject of unionization of graduate students. Inside Higher ed covered the story. Here is the issue. Private colleges and universities are subject to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which permits employees to seek to unionize through […]

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Here’s How the Scholar Disappears

Political scientists Gary King (Harvard University) and Maya Sen (University of Rochester) recently produced a working paper titled, “The Troubled Future of Colleges and Universities.” Everyone interested in higher education should read it. The paper is instructive for those who want to understand how little most academics understand the crisis universities face. The problems with […]

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Wesleyan Abandons Need-Blind Admissions

The vast majority of American colleges and universities make admission decisions without considering the financial need of applicants. Only a handful of private institutions admit their entire first-year class need-blind and then fully meet the financial need of all of their admitted students through a combination of grants, loans and employment opportunities. These institutions tend […]

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Why President Obama Can’t Lower Tuition

In his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention last night, President Obama promised that he would “work with colleges and universities” to slow the steady rise in tuition we have experienced, cutting the rate of increase in half. Inside Higher Ed has the story. Naturally, the president’s statement drew applause from the Democratic faithful, […]

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Student VoicesWhy I Dropped Out of a MOOC

Early in the summer, a friend and I enrolled in Introduction to Sociology, the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) recently discussed by Princeton Professor Mitchell Duneier. Prof. Duneier taught 40,000 online students via six weeks of free reading assignments, lectures, and discussions, interspersed with weekly quizzes and two exams. I quit three weeks into the […]

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The California College System under Scrutiny

A recent report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), entitled “Best Laid Plans: The Unfulfilled Promise of Public Higher Education,” explores a fair number of problems the California college system faces. However, I don’t think it covers them all. The report states openly and rightly the problems that California’s public colleges face […]

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The Problem with Bonuses for Masters Degrees

Carol Howley, a nursing instructor at Chicago’s Richard J. Daley College, pocketed $307,000 in extra salary over the years by enrolling in doctoral classes at Chicago’s Rush University and receiving her doctorate. There’s only one problem, though: Rush has no record of Howley’s attendence. Cook County prosecutors recently indicted her for theft of government property. […]

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Pundits Wrong on the GI Bill

As part of its series on higher ed issues in the 2012 campaign, the Chronicle of Higher Education has a long opinion piece in the form of a news article accusing Republicans of hypocrisy. In “Self-Sufficient, With a Hand From the Government,” author Scott Carlson claims to find “a striking dissonance” between the moving “pull-oneself-up-by-the-bootstraps […]

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Another College Cost: Lower Birth Rate

Originally posted at Open Market   The Washington Times takes note of the burgeoning higher education bubble in a recent editorial: The cost of a college education has soared far in excess of the cost of health care. This is in spite of — or, more accurately, because of — massive government involvement in subsidizing […]

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When Universities Raid Their Law Schools

Earlier this month Annette Clark, dean of Saint Louis University’s law school, abruptly resigned from her job via e-mail after only a year. She left after accusing the Jesuit university and its president, Rev. Lawrence Biondi, of looting the law school in order to fund other, non-law-related programs on the Saint Louis campus.  This was […]

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Investing in Higher Education Will Not Bring Democratic Equality

By Robert Weissberg America’s huge investment in higher education has always had a democratic justification: everyone should be able to attend college because this opportunity would flatten the social pyramid. Yes, a North Dakota State and Harvard degree differ in prestige, but at least the North Dakota State graduate can join the game. Put ideologically, […]

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Student Voices
Ryan’s Plan is Good for Higher Ed

Now that Paul Ryan has joined the Republican ticket, it’s worth considering how his much-discussed budget changes higher education. Ryan wants to cap the maximum amount of Pell Grant awards at the current level of $5,550, eliminating the automatic increase according to inflation. Ryan would also shore up the eligibility requirements, adding a maximum income […]

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Higher Education’s ‘Obesity’ Problem

Open a marketing brochure for any college or university in the United States and you’ll find an info-graphic touting the variety and number of degree programs that the institution offers.  The more options, the rationale goes, the more likely a student will find a desired specialty.  The distinction between programs can be subtle, for instance […]

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In Hard Times, Diversity Bureaucracies Do Well

By Duke Cheston Originally Posted from the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy About a year and a half ago, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro attempted to hire a new chief diversity officer. The university sought an administrator who would focus on increasing appreciation for racial differences on campus–even though UNCG already had […]

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Elite College ($50,000 a Year) or Good State School ($20,000)?

The new Sallie Mae-Gallup survey of attitudes toward higher education, “How America Pays for College 2012,” shows that Americans are becoming increasingly resistant to rising college prices. Some people who were saying “I want the best college money can buy” a few years ago, are now saying “We aren’t going to pay sky-high tuition when […]

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How to Save Tenure–Cut It Way Back

Professors with tenure have lifetime appointments that can only be revoked after some egregious transgression, summarized by such formal labels as moral turpitude, gross negligence or dereliction of duty. In effect, the only tenured professors who get the sack are those who have robbed a bank, raped a co-ed or pistol-whipped a colleague. Why would […]

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The 12 Reasons College Costs Keep Rising

When asked the question, “Why do colleges keep raising tuition fees?” I give answers ranging from three words (“because they can”), to 85,000 (my book, Going Broke By Degree). Avoiding both extremes, let’s evaluate two rival explanations for the college cost explosion, followed by 12 key expressions that add more detail.

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