Thursday, November 12, 2009

CCAP in the News

ESPN writer Gregg Easterbrook mentioned Richard Vedder’s and Matthew Denhart’s article that appeared in last March’s WSJ on the exploitation of college athletes, as the antithesis to his argument that the NBA should increase the NBA age limit to 20.

Richard Vedder agrees that there is no across-the-board rule about the value of a master's degree in Sunday's Miami Herald.
"In fields where the rate of pay is pretty high and you show you have a higher degree of education, you probably get some pay off," he says. "What do you do with a master's degree in sculpture? What do you do with a master's degree in archaeology? I'm not knocking these disciplines. It's just not clear to me that the payoff is there."
The debate over higher education funding in North Dakota continues, as the Bismark Tribune prints an OpEd by Richard Vedder that discusses CCAP’s recent study on higher education in the state. Last week, the state governor responded to the study’s criticism of the state’s plan to devote significantly more resources to higher ed.

Richard Vedder was one of the featured interviewees in a feature story appearing in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week that asks the question: Are too many students going to college? Here were some of Dr. Vedder's responses:
A large subset of our population should not go to college, or at least not at public expense. The number of new jobs requiring a college degree is now less than the number of young adults graduating from universities, so more and more graduates are filling jobs for which they are academically overqualified.

While it is true that areas with high proportions of college graduates tend to have higher incomes and even higher rates of economic growth than other areas, it does not necessarily follow that mindlessly increasing college enrollments enhances our economic well-being. My own research shows that there generally is a negative relationship between state support for higher education and economic growth. Sending marginal students to four-year degree programs, only to drop out, is a waste of human and financial resources, and lowers the quality of life for those involved.

I question the conventional wisdom that enormous positive spillover effects of college attendance justify large public subsidies for universities. If subsidies are to be given, they should go directly to students.

Sending too many students to college instead of, for example, postsecondary schools teaching useful trades (to become a beautician, truck driver, plumber) is a morally questionable exercise. However, the American egalitarian ideal runs strong in our society, so a good position honoring that tradition in a cost-effective way is to allow all minimally qualified students some opportunity to attend at least a low-cost community college, and if success is demonstrated, then be supported at a four-year institution. But many people have the financial means to pay for that themselves, and the notion that college is a universal public entitlement is economically imprudent and morally dubious.

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