Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Commandment #10: Divest Universities of Non-Core Activities

Commandment #10: Divest Universities of Non-Core Activities

by Daniel L. Bennett

The purpose of universities is to produce and disseminate knowledge. Providing students with fancy cuisine, elaborate accommodations and a plethora of student entertainment and recreation options has no impact whatsoever on the outcome of student learning objectives. If anything, the proliferation of such a consumer-oriented focus on campuses across the nation has detracted from student learning. Colleges need to divest themselves of these non education-related activities and re-focus on their original purpose - to seek and transmit knowledge.

It is true that students residing away from home for college need a place to live, dining options and social activities, but this does not necessitate that the colleges themselves need to provide such services. By doing so, colleges establish local monopoly power that results in an inefficient allocation of resources. It is safe to assume that if these markets were open to competition, there would be no shortage of private sector and entrepreneurial interest in providing these services -- and likely in a much more efficient and consumer-friendly manner. The privatization of these services would free up university resources and administrative burden to focus on education-related services. This would, in turn, result in lower operating costs that could be passed on to students in the form of reduced tuition charges.

In addition, a reduction in the operating costs via privatization of non-core activities would be a two-fold victory for the general public. First, it would lessen the need for public support of inefficient, tax-free college services. Second, the private sector pays taxes on its profits, so the privatization of non education-related services (i.e. - housing, dining, entertainment, etc.) would actually boost the tax base, as opposed to being a hindrance on it as is currently the case. This would free up public dollars for more productive uses, such as reducing the nation's growing debt that will surely imperil the future of the next generation of Americans.

Good policy will produce a win-win situation. Students and parents will benefit from private-sector competition of these services with lower costs and more choices, as well as from colleges placing a renowned emphasis on education-related activities. Faculty will benefit as more resources will be made available for education-related activities. The general public will benefit from the simultaneous reduction in expenditures on higher education and the increase in tax dollars from private businesses (not to mention the job creation in the private sector), assuming that policy makers direct the additional resources to more productive means. By privatizing non-core college activities, everyone wins except for rapacious university administrators whose bureaucratic regimes will diminish.


capeman said...

Dan -- if you're serious about wanting to be a college president, first, get your Ph.D., then get yourself a faculty position, work your way up in administration.

The way you're going, you have about as much chance of becoming a college president as of becoming head of GE.

Cowboy said...

Capeman - Your comment is quite revealing to me about your outlook on life. Daniel, and so many others have a very bright future ahead of them, and to tell young men and women that their career is over before it has even begun is a shame. I can only presume that such a comment would come from someone who is not going anywhere in life. Not with an attitude like that. I swear, you must be a miserable person. You think the glass is half empty - I think the glass is twice as large as it needs to be.

Daniel, You have a wonderful future ahead of you. NEVER let people try to drag you down to their level. Most losers want the rest of the world to be losers to make them feel better about being a loser.

capeman said...

Cowboy -- Right, and you're working your way up to be head of GE. Maybe you and the wonderboys can trade war stories after they have taken over the universities.

These are vicious people who are only out to tear down and destroy. They are also immensely arrogant. So I'm trying to bring the boy back down to earth. He has deluded himself into thinking that he knows how to run higher education, but in reality, as far as I know, he hasn't done the first thing -- get a Ph.D. -- that he needs to do, if he really is serious.