Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Center Is Born

July 27, 2007

The Center for College Affordability and Productivity, or CCAP, is born! It is the outgrowth of a variety of developments, starting with my book Going Broke By Degree: Why College Costs Too Much, published by the American Enterprise Institute Press in 2004. That book led to several things, including my being named to the Secretary of Education's National Commission on the Future of Higher Education. Still others urged me to extend my work, and start a research center on higher education financing. Funding was secured to begin it, and with this message we inaugarate a blog that will include regular contributions from me, Richard Vedder, from Bryan O'Keefe, the Associate Director of the Center, and from other researchers, including at the moment Jonathan Leirer, James Woodward, Matthew Denhart and Jacob Miller. In time, I hope to solicit contributions for major studies from key researchers, hold a conference assessing the state of higher education in America, etc.

I have taught for over 40 years, at Ohio University, and have long felt higher education in America was a wonderful place to work, and it performed important missions, but also that it was increasingly inefficient, unproductive, costly, elitist, intolerant, and so forth. I have thought it is possible to verify and detect the reasons for this, and to suggest directions for positive change. I am a great believer that markets work, that competiton is good, and that, relatively speaking, government is generally less good at allocating resources efficiently (although I am not a radical libertarian of the anarchist variety). I think some market-based thinking about the academy might help in our efforts to make American universities less costly, more affordable, and more efficient.

There is nothing like statistical analysis to reveal some unpleasant truths about the academy. I believe it can be demonstrated, for example, that

* Increased State Appropriations for universities do not lead to major increases in college participation by students;

*Of each 100 kids entering high school, only about 17 get college degrees a decade later (in the case of students pursuing bachelor degrees), or seven years for those pursuing associate degrees. That percentage varies enormously geographically.

*Contrary to the assertions of the Higher Education Establishment, student financial aid increases have contributed to the rise in tuition fees in the United States.

*There is some recent data that suggests the growth in the college-high school graduate earnings differential may have halted; this potentially lowers the value of costly college education as a worthwile financial investment.

*Governmental spending on higher education may reduce the rate of economic growth rather than increase it.

There are many other claims that we could make and verify -- about the declining relative importance of instruction, for example. But this is mainly a "test" message to see if we are truly up and running. Later studies, op-eds, etc., will provide evidence to confirm some of the claims stated above.

A note to readers -- this site will be enhanced significantly in the weeks ahead. We wanted, however, to get on-line and start doing what we are being paid to do, research and communicate about higher education in America.

Richard Vedder

1 comment:

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