Thursday, May 15, 2008

Student Credit Crisis and the Value of Higher Education

Peter Wood at Minding the Campus has an article up on student loans and the value of higher education. Here's my response:

Peter Wood imagines that "ideological frills" are the cause of higher tuition and debt. There's no evidence of this at all. Does he imagine that residence hall directors would simply disappear if they didn't have educational programs? I agree on the need for more faculty (especially tenure-track faculty) rather than administrators. But sustainability czars, if there are any, represent a very tiny part of the staffing, and probably are more appreciated by students than most administrators. In truth, students already have the choice for education without frills. It's called community college, and most students tend to avoid it unless finances or geography dictate otherwise.

As for the student loan credit crunch, Wood apparently knows nothing about economics and doesn't wish to change his ignorance by talking to any economists. It is ludicrous to imagine that this is a collective declaration by the markets that a college education is less worthwhile. It has absolutely nothing to do with a sudden change in the market valuation of higher education and everything to do with the larger credit crisis in this country. If everyone has more difficulty getting loans, then it makes perfect sense that students will face more difficulty getting loans. It has nothing to do with perceptions about college.

[Read Wood's reply in the comments section of his article. He’s absolutely right about the increase in administrative staff. What he’s missing is the cause. Educational activities are a tiny part of the staffing. Instead, the increase comes from areas such as advising (which faculty used to do), and fundraising, as well as the central administration operation.]

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