How to make college cheaper
Better management would allow American universities to do more with less
Jul 7th 2011 | from the print edition
DEREK BOK, a former president of Harvard, once observed that “universities share one characteristic with compulsive gamblers and exiled royalty: there is never enough money to satisfy their desires.” This is a bit hard on compulsive gamblers and exiled royals. America’s universities have raised their fees five times as fast as inflation over the past 30 years. Student debt in America exceeds credit-card debt. Yet still the universities keep sending begging letters to alumni and philanthropists.
This insatiable appetite for money was bad enough during the boom years. It is truly irritating now that middle-class incomes are stagnant and students are struggling to find good jobs. Hence a flurry of new thinking about higher education. Are universities inevitably expensive? Vance Fried, of Oklahoma State University, recently conducted a fascinating thought experiment, backed up by detailed calculations. Is it possible to provide a first-class undergraduate education for $6,700 a year rather than the $25,900 charged by public research universities or the $51,500 charged by their private peers? He concluded that it is.
在经济景气的年份，这种对金钱贪得无厌的胃口让人厌烦。而在目前中产阶级收入缩水、学生为找一份好工作绞尽脑汁之际，这种胃口简直是让人愤怒。因此也就有了一阵对高等教育的重新思考。大学是不是非要如此昂贵呢？最近，俄克拉荷马州立大学的Vance Fried完成了一个迷人的思维实验（有详细计算支持）。提供第一流的本科教育仅花费6700美元，而非公立研究型大学收取的25900美元或私立研究型大学收取的51500美元，这是否可能？Vance Fried认为答案是肯定的。