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What colleges can learn from newspapers' demise

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Bob Cook, Apr 4, 2009.

  1. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    If this is better for Journalism, then please move, mods.


    Basically, the reductive cost of information is a vulnerable point for colleges asking you to spend a shitload of money to sit in an enormous lecture hall to have a TA go through the motions teaching finite math -- which is the shitload of money that funds everything else.

    Money grafs:

    But universities have their own weak point, their own vulnerable cash cow: lower-division undergraduate education. The math is pretty simple: Multiply an institution's average net tuition (plus any state subsidies) by the number of students (say, 200) in a freshman lecture course. Subtract whatever the beleaguered adjunct lecturer teaching the course is being paid. I don't care what kind of confiscatory indirect-cost multiplier you care to add to that equation, the institution is making a lot of money — which is then used to pay for faculty scholarship, graduate education, administrative salaries, the football coach, and other expensive things that cost more than they bring in.

    As of today, there's no Craigslist busily destroying the financial foundations of the modern university. Teaching is a lot more complicated than advertising, and universities have the advantage of sitting behind government-backed barriers to competition, in the form of accreditation. Anyone can use the Internet to sell classified ads or publish opinion columns or analyze the local news. Not anyone can sell credit-bearing courses or widely recognized degrees.

    But the number of organizations that can — and are doing it online — is getting bigger every year. According to the Sloan Consortium, nearly 20 percent of college students — some 3.9 million people — took an online course in 2007, and their numbers are growing by hundreds of thousands each year. The University of Phoenix enrolls over 200,000 students per year. In one case, the dying newspaper industry itself is grabbing for a share of the higher-education market. The for-profit Kaplan University is owned by the Washington Post Company.

    And it would be a grave mistake to assume that the regulatory walls of accreditation will protect traditional universities forever. Elite institutions like Stanford University and Yale University (which are, luckily for them, in the eternally lucrative sorting and prestige business) are giving away extremely good lectures on the Internet, free. Web sites like Academic Earth are organizing those and thousands more like them into "playlists," which is really just iPodspeak for "curricula." Every year the high schools graduate another three million students who have never known a world that worked any other way.
  2. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    I disagree that there's no "Craigslist" hurting higher education.

    Many kids are flocking to two-year vocational schools, Ivy Tech is an example in Indiana, for no other reason than the cost isn't as prohibitive as a four-year school and they feel they're more assured of getting a job once they're done.

    Two-year schools won't dent private schools or high-end institutions much, but they're already hurting four-year public schools. The one I cover being one of them.
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