By Richard Vedder
I read that the University of Massachusetts is raising its tuition rates by 15 percent, while Dartmouth College is raising theirs by "only" five percent. This is in a year in which the Consumer Price Index rose by only 0.1 percent, the smallest increase in over a half a century.
It is more of the same old thing. Raise real tuition fees a lot. If legislatures won't let universities do it, they do it anyhow through the back door --new fees and charges. Slim down staff a tad, give small or no salary increases. But do not try to make Major League changes in the way we do business. And then beg Congress to throw extra billions out of airplanes to sustain the uneconomic situation for another year or two. It is all very sad.
Meanwhile, Jim Coleman shows me an article in INSIDE HIGHER ED where it is revealed that Tufts wants to limit the amount of pre-college credit that students can use for graduation. Tufts proposal is liberal compared with Williams or Boston College, which flatly will not take AP credit towards graduation. These moves are justified on some sort of quality control basis. Apparently a little AP is okay (at least at Tufts --whose faculty still have to approve the plan)--but not too much. We would not want any students graduate in three years, saving them $50,000. Let us put impediments to reducing the costs of higher education.
The new Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pleased the American College of Education audience he spoke to yesterday. Why? Apparently gone were the threats from his predeccsor demanding accountability and results. Instead, the audience heard all the platitudes about being the best system of higher education in the world. The voices of reform are being pushed aside, and the enablers of uneconomic and anti-productive policies are being encouraged --Duncan worried that not enough tens of billions will be dropped out of planes over campuses, enabling colleges to continue their old unproductive ways.
If I sound grouchy and pessimistic, that is how I feel.