Richard Vedder

The Unstoppable MOOCs

By Richard Vedder Although difficult to measure, it is unlikely that higher education has had any productivity advance in the 50 years since I finished college. Economists like Princeton’s William Baumol have argued that rising college costs are inevitable, given inherent limitations on reducing the cost of disseminating knowledge -only so many people can fit […]

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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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Universities Are Vocational Schools

Why do students go to college? A new poll has a one-word answer: money. That’s one of the findings in a broad Gallup survey of college admissions officers done for Inside Higher Ed. The admissions officers seem to believe that those planning to attend college view it largely as a signaling device that directs the best […]

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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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Three Things Colleges Don’t Want Us to Know

Universities are in the knowledge business, and the creation and dissemination of it is at the very core of what colleges do. Yet some forms of knowledge about higher education itself are either unknown, or hidden from the public. Why? Release of the information would prove embarrassing and possibly even costly to the school. 1. […]

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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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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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The Insecurity of Black Studies

Posted by Mark Bauerlein and Richard Vedder The removal of Naomi Shaefer Riley from the blogging staff of the Chronicle of Higher Education has been widely circulated in the cybersphere and the press, including Riley’s own account in the Wall Street Journal and many of our own contributors at Minding the Campus. All of them […]

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‘The For-Profits Care More for Their Students’

Inside Higher Education has just released its second annual survey of college presidents on their views about major problems and challenges facing higher education. Over 1,000 presidents responded to the survey, from all types of schools, including over 50 for-profit institutions. To me the most interesting finding is that public and private schools have somewhat […]

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Why They Seem to Rise Together:
Federal Aid and College Tuition

It’s called “the Bennett Hypothesis,” and it explains–or tries to explain–why the cost of college lies so tantalizingly out of reach for so many. In 1987, then Secretary of Education William J. Bennett launched a quarter century of debate by saying, in effect, “Federal aid doesn’t help; colleges and universities just cream off the extra […]

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How Universities Promote the “Coming Apart” of America

Every decade or so, Charles Murray writes a blockbuster book captivating America. First came Losing Ground, focusing attention on our dysfunctional system of public assistance, and, along with Richard Herrnstein, The Bell Curve, a controversial but rigorous examination of the role played by cognitive endowments in American life. I suspect his new book, Coming Apart: […]

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About All Those STEM Dropouts…

The New York Times proclaimed recently that science educators and others are vitally concerned that high dropout rates of students studying math, science, and engineering (the “STEM” disciplines) will imperil our nation’s technological leadership. There is a shortage of people in these fields, it is argued, and efforts to increase numbers are thwarted by dropout rates […]

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Steve Jobs and Our Non-Innovating Universities

The passing of Steve Jobs has focused my mind on something I haven’t thought about for a while: American capitalism is so vibrant, so creative, so much a creator of wealth and happiness, while higher education is far less so on all scores. Perhaps this explains why, when we tax capitalists and their suppliers (including […]

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‘Yes, Some Teachers Do Very Little’

A huge brouhaha has erupted over the release and interpretation of data about the faculty of the University of Texas, centering on whether a relatively few individuals are doing most of the teaching at the system’s flagship institution, UT-Austin. Two reports drew most of the fire, one by my organization, the Center for College Affordability and Productivity […]

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Why University Presidents Are Clueless About the Real World

New Pew Research Center data show that a large majority of Americans think U.S. colleges and universities offer only fair or poor value for the financial cost -but college presidents strikingly disagree, with a majority of them thinking college offers at least a good value (though college presidents are overwhelmingly pessimistic about the quality of American higher education compared to the […]

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College Presidents–Do They Make Too Much Money?

The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s recently released annual survey of the salaries of university presidents provides empirical support for the proposition that higher education today appears to be less about achieving lofty goals like disseminating knowledge, building character, promoting virtue and expanding the frontiers of what humans can do than it is about something far more mundane: keeping […]

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Cut the Sniping—It’s a Great Book

The sniping has begun about Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s great new book Academically Adrift. Predictably, people are saying the test instruments used (especially the Collegiate Learning Assessment or CLA but also the National Survey of Student Engagement or NSSE) are imperfect, they look at only a small number of relatively anonymous schools, etc. These […]

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Let’s Not Conflate Education and Job Preparation

Richard Vedder’s basic argument is sound: universities have become too expensive and too mediocre and too often the default for young people who might do well to pursue appropriate schooling through the secondary level. And as he writes, with too many seeking to preserve a bloated system, a reckoning is at hand. But in the […]

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The BA is a False God

That I disagree with nothing important in Patrick Deneen’s post is a measure of how different this elephant seems, depending on what part you’ve got hold of. Very briefly: I want everybody, not just an elite, to acquire as much liberal education as possible, for the reasons that Deneen describes. But we don’t have to […]

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Is It Fair to Call It a Scam?

Professor Richard Vedder is certainly one of the most knowledgeable — and wisest – commentators on American higher education. So his cautionary remarks should be taken very seriously. I have one reservation about calling the push for more colleges a “scam.” It is true that some youngsters knew all through college that they wanted to […]

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What Happens When College Is Oversold

As I wrote here last week, newly compiled data shows that a great many college graduates have been settling into jobs that do not require higher education. The data, prepared and released by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP), show that a majority of the increased number of college grads since 1992—some 60 […]

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Do We Need More College Grads?

Richard Vedder calls it “the single most scandalous statistic in higher education,” an assessment that doesn’t sound overstated to us. Writing on the Chronicle of Higher Education site, Vedder says “a small army of researchers and associates” gathered by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) shows that “approximately 60 percent of the increase […]

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Alas, the Feds Take Over Student Loans

As an observer of the national political scene for over a half of a century, and as a former employee of the U.S. Senate, I have seen a lot of political sleaze and chicanery. But nothing tops what happened as the Congress, using a relatively arcane procedure designed to correct spending excesses in budget bills, […]

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Why Tuition Goes Up Every Year

Middlebury College is expected to announce a plan to hold the annual rise of tuition to one percentage point above the inflation rate. This announcement will likely be greeted with praise. But why? Costs may be held down in comparison with other colleges, but the bedrock assumption here is a familiar one: tuition must go […]

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