Higher Education's Faulty Economics: How We Got Here

Tom Lindsay, Forbes, Sept 01, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I take it with a grain of salt when Forbes accuses something of "faulty economics", especially a public service such as education. And true to form, Forbes lays the blame at the feet of access: "tuition hyperinflation, burdensome student-loan debt, and poor student learning—are to some extent branches of the same tree, whose roots are found in the well-intentioned but what has proved to be catastrophically naïve assumption that virtually all high school graduates should go to college." What is naïve, I think, is the presumption that we could pick some elite subset of society and treat them to an education, leaving the rest of us to depend on their beneficence. The problem is that too much of the education system is in the hands of private industry, a sector noted for raising prices, increasing debt, and cutting back on quality. The suggestion that this would suddenly change were we to limit access to education is nonsense.

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