Monday, November 19, 2007

Stirring the Pot

By Richard Vedder

Reading INSIDE HIGHER EDUCATION today, I learn that the higher education community is going to be "infuriated" with a study that CCAP just released that I have written entitled Over Invested and Over Priced: American Higher Education Today. That reflects a basic problem with higher education: they get mad a lot --especially when one critically assesses any activity that they undertake. This anger probably reflects the fact that the very freedom of expression that our system of higher education is designed to protect leads sometimes to unrestrained ad hominem gestures that are unrelated to facts or interpretations of empirical evidence.

I was delighted, however, that Jim Garland came to my defense, stating that people are really unhappy with the evidence as I present it, and that I am viewing the issue of higher education the way academics should view it --by looking at evidence, evaluating the costs and benefits of decisions, etc. Jim himself is a distinguished scientist who served with great distinction as the president of one of America's great public universities, Miami of Ohio. I appreciate the support. Ironically, in this paper, I do not present a whole lot of evidence, but rather outline a series of stylized facts that work to increase college costs, lead to some malinvestments, etc. We at CCAP are planning to release more studies, generally full of facts and figures. We are not out to hurt higher education, but rather to tell the truth about it and help it improve over time.

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