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《经济学人》:怎样让大学更便宜一些

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Mr Fried shunned easy solutions. He insisted that students should live in residential colleges, just as they do at Harvard and Yale. He did not suggest getting rid of football stadiums (which usually pay for themselves) or scrimping on bed-and-board.

Vance Fried回避了简单的解决方案。他认为学生应当在寄宿制大学学习生活——正如哈佛和耶鲁现在那样。他并没有建议去掉足球场(足球场可以自给自足)或者节省膳宿费用。

His cost-cutting strategies were as follows. First, separate the funding of teaching and research. Research is a public good, he reasoned, but there is no reason why undergraduates should pay for it. Second, increase the student-teacher ratio. Business and law schools achieve good results with big classes. Why not other colleges? Mr Fried thinks that universities will be able to mix some small classes with big ones even if they have fewer teachers. Third, eliminate or consolidate programmes that attract few students. Fourth, puncture administrative bloat. The cost of administration per student soared by 61% in real terms between 1993 and 2007. Private research universities spend $7,000 a year per student on “administrative support”: not only deans and department heads but also psychologists, counsellors, human-resources implementation managers and so on. That is more than the entire cost of educating a student under Mr Fried’s scheme.

他削减开支的策略如下。第一,将教学和学术研究的资金分离开来。他认为,学术研究是一种公益,不过大学生就应当为此买单毫无道理可言。第二,增加学生与老师人数的比率。商学院和法学院上的是大课,但是收效更佳。其他学院为什么就不能呢?Vance Fried认为,即便学校的老师再少一些,大学也能够将许多小班跟大班混在一起。第三,剔除或者加强那些不能很好吸引学生的课程。第四,削弱行政膨胀。实际上,行政管理的费用在1993年至2007年之间上涨了61%。私立研究型大学一年在每位学生“行政支持”上要花掉7000美元。所谓行政支持,对象不仅有院长、系主任,还有心理学家、辅导员、人事科的执行人员等等。这比Vance Fried方案下培养一位学生的全部费用都要多。

Veteran university-watchers may dismiss Mr Fried’s ideas as pie in the sky. (“The only part of college not mired in tradition is the price,” grumbles Ben Wildavsky, a co-editor of “Reinventing Higher Education”.) Yet some universities are beginning to squeeze costs. The University of Minnesota’s new campus in Rochester has defined teaching as “job one”. The Harrisburg University of Science and Technology has abolished tenure and merged academic departments. Regents at the University of Texas are talking about a $10,000 undergraduate degree.

资深大学观察家或许会对Vance Fried的主意不屑一顾,认为那是天方夜谭。(《重塑高等教育》的合著者Ben Wildavsky批评说,大学价钱飙升,其余的东西保持传统,改革阻力很大)。不过,一些大学正在开始挤压成本。 明尼苏达州大学在罗切斯特市的新校区已经将教学定义为“第一工作”。 哈里斯堡科技大学已经废除了终身职位并合并了学术部门。德克萨斯大学的校董们开始谈论10000美元的本科学位。

Mr Fried fails to mention an obvious source of savings. Americans could complete their undergraduate degrees in three years (as is normal elsewhere), instead of four. In practice, most American students take even longer than four years, not least because so many work to pay their tuition. Surprisingly, America’s future chainsaw-wielding corporate titans take a leisurely two years to complete their MBAs; most Europeans need only one.

Vance Fried忘了提及一种显而易见的节省开支的渠道。美国人可以用3年取得本科学位,而不是4年。(在其他国家也很正常)。实际上,许多美国人取得学位的时间都要超过4年——尤其是因为要做许多工作来支付学费。奇怪的是,美国未来的企业巨头需两年,方可从容完成MBA学位,大多数欧洲人只需要1年。

Shai Reshef, an educational entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist, is pioneering an even more radical idea. His University of the People offers free higher education (not counting the few hundred dollars it costs to process applications and mark exams), pitching itself to poor people in America and the rest of the world. The university does this by exploiting three resources: the goodwill of academic volunteers who want to help the poor, the availability of free “courseware” on the internet and the power of social networking. Some 2,000 academic volunteers have designed the courses and given the university some credibility. Tutors direct the students, who so far number 1,000 or so and hail from around the world, to the online courses. They also help to organise them into study groups, and then supervise from afar, dropping in on discussions and marking tests. Mr Reshef pays for incidental expenses with $2m of his own money and donations.

一位受过教育的企业家出身的慈善家Shai Reshef提出了更为激进的观点。他的人民大学提供免费高等教育(过程应用和改卷子的数百美元不算在内),向美国和世界其他地方的穷人推销自己的学校。这所大学利用三种资源来运转:想要帮助穷人的学术志愿者的善意、互联网上可获得的免费“课件”和社交网络。约2000个学术志愿者设计了课程,使大学有了一些信誉。指导老师们将那些迄今已有1000左右来自世界各地的学生带到网络课程。老师们同样帮助学生组织学习小组,在远方监督他们,不时加入探讨、进行考试。Shai Reshef额外支付200万的花费,这些钱来自自己的腰包或者募捐。



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