Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ The Global Evidence Against Free College

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

According to Inside Higher Ed, this report (19 page PDF) from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) says, "when developed nations dedicate more public resources to postsecondary education, they tend to produce fewer graduates." In fact it says nothing of the sort, and even says "the analysis in this report cannot establish a causal relationship between these different qualities of higher education systems." The AEI report itself contains numerous flaws, not the least of which is the authors' creative interpretation of OECD data, for example, defining 'quality' (aka 'resources') as "each country's total expenditure on higher education, divided by the number of full-time equivalent students, measured as a share of the country's GDP per capita," which makes Slovakia the provider of the second-highest quality system in the OECD. I have nothing against Slovakia, but, really? What the AEI is doing is depicting education spending as a zero-sum game in which there are always trade-offs between access and quality. It's not, of course. The U.S. slathers rich kids with swimming pools and movie stars. But that doesn't make it better.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Jul 13, 2024 9:38 p.m.

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