Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bon Voyage American Higher Ed?

By Bryan O’Keefe

That just might be the message that some students are finally sending to the elite colleges and universities. It has long been the view of this blog that as college costs continue to rise with no end in sight, many students will be forced to consider non-traditional alternatives such as for-profit education, community colleges, certification programs, etc.

Marketplace has a very interesting story about another possible alternative to paying $44,000 a year for American higher ed: studying abroad at a prestigious school for a fraction of the costs. As the story points out, the cost of a year at Oxford is only $10,000, which is considerably less expensive than Harvard and Yale and even less expensive than many second rate and third rate colleges. There is also the exotic aspect of studying in a different country, which is certainly appealing to some students. (We know that studying abroad is attractive because many students do it for a semester or two during their undergrad years. I think that it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to think that students wouldn’t mind doing it for all four years too.) The Oxford Admissions Department reports that applications are on the rise and it’s entirely plausible that this trend will only continue as American colleges and universities continue to raise costs.

My only question is – why stop with Oxford? There are many terrific colleges and universities all over the world that, from an affordability perspective, are much better than our own. Could we possibly see a trend in the future where more American students say the heck with racking up huge amounts of debt, I am going abroad for my degree? Some food for thought.

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