Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why college costs more and delivers less to students: athletics, sabbaticals, research, salaries and "excessive amenities"

In America, the cost of higher education has been rising faster than inflation and health care costs for more than two decades. Money Magazine calculated that college tuition rose by 439 percent from 1982-2007.

According to Mark C. Taylor, author of Crisis on Campus: A Bold Plan for Reforming Our Colleges and Universities, four years at a top-tier school will increase from $330,000 in 2020 to $785,000 in 2035 if recent trends continue.

What are colleges and universities spending all that money on? If you think it's on initiatives that improve the quality of education for students, you're wrong.

Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus, authors of Higher Education?: How Colleges are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids -- and What We Can Do About It, write, "The chief reason why costs keep rising is that education has become a minor player in higher education. At public universities, only 28% of spending goes for instruction; private colleges do a bit better at 33%."

Hacker and Dreifus found that the majority of spending goes for costly athletic programs, faculty sabbaticals, research financing, college presidents' salaries, and excessive amenities.

Moreover, administrative bloat has been rising. A new report by the Goldwater Institute found that

[e]nrollment at America’s leading universities has been increasing dramatically, rising nearly 15 percent between 1993 and 2007. But unlike almost every other growing industry, higher education has not become more efficient. Instead, universities now have more administrative employees and spend more on administration to educate each student. In short, universities are suffering from 'administrative bloat,' expanding the resources devoted to administration significantly faster than spending on instruction, research and service.

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