Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Perhaps I Was Wrong

by Andrew Gillen

A few months back, I entered the fray over the replicablity of scientific papers. Some, like Felix Salmon, took the view that if "your results aren't replicable, your study is largely worthless." (Market Movers was taken over by Ryan Avent whose name now appears as the author, but the real author was Felix).

I took an opposing view, arguing that
Because any given empirical work is imperfect... The best use of researchers time is not to replicate already imperfect studies, but to use other methods, other data, other proxies, and other assumptions to help determine just how imperfect the original study was.
But perhaps I'm too willing to give the benefit of the doubt. A post by Kevin Drum draws my attention to this graph from a paper by Alan Gerber and Neil Malhotra. It shows the number of published studies whose results have a particular z score. Anything with a z score above 1.96 is considered to be statistically significant.

if journals accepted articles based solely on the quality of the work, with no regard to z-scores, you'd expect the z-score of studies to resemble a bell curve. But that's not what Gerber and Malhotra found... this is unsurprising. Publication bias is a well-known and widely studied effect
He continues:
But take a closer look at the graph. In particular, take a look at the two bars directly adjacent to the magic number of 1.96 [the blue and the red bars]... They should be roughly the same height, but they aren't even close. There are a lot of studies that just barely show significant results, and there are hardly any that fall just barely short of significance. There's a pretty obvious conclusion here, and it has nothing to do with publication bias: data is being massaged on wide scale.
This takes a big chunk out of my argument.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Healthy Change

by Andrew Gillen

The implosion of the financial world is turning out to have at least one good consequence - fewer of the best students are going into finance. Some of them are apparently going into engineering instead.

Esther Duflo (and separately me at a STEM conference last year) were hoping this would happen.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Financial Aid Testimony Now Available

Richard Vedder's full testimony before the House Committee on Education and Labor opposed granting the government a student loan monopoly and argued against further socialization of financial aid. His full testimony is available for download on our website.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Battle Begins

By Richard Vedder

General Obama has a mighty army of legislative minions ready to push through a radical agenda that will change America in dangerous and unfortunate ways. One area of contention is higher education. Obama is trying to take control of the health care, banking and automobile industries through his faux socialism, so why not higher ed?

The battle in higher ed begins tomorrow in the House Labor Committee. The Dems control the show, and have an army of witnesses designed to show that deep sixing privately subsidized loans, making Pell Grants an entitlement, and dropping more money out of airplanes will somehow help students and America. Don't believe it. I don't.

I will be testifying for the minority (in Congress) view tomorrow, and maybe CSPAN will cover it, beginning at 10 a.m. EDT. I expect some fireworks. Stay tuned.

Why College Rankings Matter

by Luke Myers

On Monday we had a very interesting and engaging conversation about the role of college rankings in higher education (you can find video here and coverage here). While most of the presenters supported college rankings on the whole, Cliff Adelman of the Institute for Higher Education Policy denied they had any use. He argued that college rankings are not taken seriously by anyone but “insecure academic administrators,” are nothing more than entertainment that belongs on the sports page, and have no effect on the lives and learning of college students. He rejects that rankings can be a part of encouraging quality in higher education and calls instead for a Bologna Process-inspired system of accountability.

While we at CCAP whole-heartedly support Adelman's call for better assessment of learning outcomes in higher education, I believe he is dead wrong about the role college rankings can play. Numerous empirical studies suggest that college rankings have tangible and quantifiable effects on students’ college choice and universities’ management practices, as discussed in our study. While Adelman may find these rankings nothing more than “entertaining,” thousands of high school students and parents rely on them as a part of their college search process. These documented effects cannot be dismissed by mere assertion

There are two problems with claiming college rankings have no role in providing accountability for higher education. First, in order for any form of accountability to be useful to the consumers of higher education and the general public, it must be easily understood. The question and answer period after Adelman’s 20 minute presentation demonstrated that even the highly educated members of the audience were not clear on how the Bologna Process system of accountability operated. The process involves qualification frameworks that universities are supposed to operate within and “diploma supplements” that are to list the exact skills a recipient has demonstrated. Yet with thousands of institutions of higher education in the United States, it is unclear how this complex information—no doubt important to collect—would be useful to high school students who may receive e-mails from over 40 schools in just one day.

Adelman’s support of the Bologna Process represents an ideal of accountability that is by academics, for academics. High school students and their parents do not have time to sort through in-depth information about the hundreds of universities they may be considering. As Adelman struggled to clarify the complex process to the audience, another presenter at the conference captured this sentiment best when he leaned over to me and said “This is why people like rankings.” Rankings simplify information so as to be useful to the average college-bound student when comparing many different institutions.

Second, in light of this demand for easily understood comparative information, Adelman’s remarks ignore the power of incentives. It is true that rankings themselves do not directly affect the lives and learning of college students, but they can provide the incentives for colleges to engage in practices that do. Consumers do pay attention to rankings and the resulting desire for schools to move up in rankings does affect students’ educational experiences on campuses.

I applaud Adelman’s desire to focus on the learning outcomes of higher education, such as application of knowledge, using complex data, and communicating to various audiences. These are the criteria by which institutions should be judged. Focusing on learning outcomes and rankings are not mutually exclusive. If rankings were based on these criteria, the schools’ desire to move up in the rankings would provide the necessary incentive for institutions to spend their resources on practices that promoted these learning outcomes.

But if the information about whether or not institutions actually provide these outcomes is too unwieldy for consumers to quickly distinguish the quality of one school compared to another, there is no way to hold institutions accountable according to these definitions of quality. Where is the accountability if the information is provided in such a way that neither consumers of higher education nor employers can comprehend it? One can create the best system for gathering data on the most important learning outcomes of higher education, but the existence of this data is useless to accountability unless it is easily accessible and understood by the public doing the accounting.

Rankings are not a panacea to the current accountability gap in higher education. Current rankings may actually be providing perverse incentives to administrators and encouraging inefficient use of resources. The focus on learning outcomes stressed by Adelman is vital to the improvement of quality at colleges and universities. But this better source of data must be presented in a way that allows for the functioning of one of the most important forms of accountability: consumer choice. If there is one thing Americans appreciate and can easily understand, it is rankings, and as a result they will continue to find them an important part of their college search process, even if they are published on the sports page.

California Here I Come!!!

By Richard Vedder

Universities were by no means the only governmental agencies with much at stake in yesterday's California election, but they were pretty heavily involved. Mark Yudof of Cal said that drastic reductions would change the character of the University of California system as we know it. Charlie Reed at the Cal State system said similar things, but the voter's attitude is "we need the money more than you," and higher taxes are unacceptable.

Again, for the umpteenth time, I say: Out of adversity comes opportunity. The California system, a pacesetter in higher ed in the 1950s and 1960s, can be again, by reinventing the way we deliver degrees. Maybe we need to vigorously push cost-saving technology, play more with pricing models that would encourage more efficient resource allocation. And maybe California should move to a student-centered approach that gives funds to students, not institutions. Maybe the whole research mission needs to be critically assessed. There are no incentives ordinarily to do these things, but desperation can bring innovation. California is losing native born population to other states, in part because of a punitive high tax/regulatory environment. The voters understand that even if the bureaucrats, including university leaders, do not.

Conference Video Now Available--Assessing University Performance

If you were unable to attend the Center for College Affordability and Productivity's (cosponsored by the American Enterprise Institute) May 18 event, Assessing University Performance, you can watch the video here.

Note: you need to have windows media player to view it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

College Board: Taking the "non" out of non-profit?

by Andrew Gillen

This article in Big Money was pretty eye opening, especially the discussion of the economics of the testing industry.

Turns out that in 2006, the College Board had a surplus of 55 million dollars. With that much money, perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that
Caperton made $673,757 in 2006... [or that] The College Board has 10 senior vice presidents and 28 vice presidents; senior staff members make an average of $239,374 in compensation. These numbers are presumed to have gone higher since 2006.
HT: Freakonomics

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Coming Attractions: Assessment and Loans

By Richard Vedder

Tomorrow, Monday, May 18, CCAP will join with the American Enterprise Institute, with which I maintan an affiliation, in having a conference on assessing colleges. It is free, begins at 9 a.m. at the AEI Conference Center, 1150 17th St. N.W., 12th floor.

Speakers, besides Luke Myers and yours truly from CCAP, will include Carol Geary Schneider, president of the American Association of Colleges and Universities, Pat Callan from the National Institute of Public Policy and Higher Education, Cliff Adelman, Institute of Higher Education Policy and a top higher education researcher and innovater, Steve Goodman, private college counselor extraordinare and book author, Jim Boyle, prez of College Parents of America, and last, and certainly not least, both Mel Elfin and Bob Morse from US News & World Report. The moderators are interesting too --- Doug Lederman from INSIDE HIGHER ED, Bob Glidden, Prez Emeritus of Ohio University and a founding father of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and Michael Noer, the Executive Editor of, that sponsors rankings on colleges that CCAP does. It should be a lively discourse on assessing American colleges and universities, asking questions like: Are college rankings harmful or helpful? Are there other (non-ranking) modes of assessment that are valid? Be our guests and join us at the conference. It concludes at 12;30 p.m.


As readers know, I have been critical of the Obama Administration's higher education policies. On Thursday, I will be voicing those concerns more visibly, testifying before the House Education and Labor Committee at 10:00 a.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building. I suspect the hearing will be covered by CSPAN, but who knows. I will be the skunk at the federal student financial assistance lovefest, opposing the socialization of student loans, making Pell Grants an entitlement, etc. I haven't decided whether to be deferential and polite or really vent, endangering future invitations to testify, which may well be a good thing. Some of the other witnesses I respect, especially Charlie Reed, chancellor of the Cal State University system, the nation's largest. Should be an interesting discussion on the student loan issue.

Friday, May 15, 2009

UPCOMING EVENT: Monday, May 18 Assessing University Performance

An event cosponsored by the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity

Monday, May 18, 2009, 9:00am – 12:30pm
Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, AEI
1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036

Please register for this event in advance at

Shortly after the event occurs, a video web cast will be available on the AEI website at

For more information, please contact Daniel Bennett at or by calling (202) 375-7831.

Each year, prospective college students and university officials alike eagerly await the publication of the latest college rankings. The concept of rankings colleges is not new, dating back to the early twentieth century, but only in the past two decades have they assumed commercial importance.. Consumers and policy makers have little information available by which to assess the performance of the vast number of colleges in the U.S. when making critical financial decisions, so they are forced to rely on the few measures that are publicly available, including, most notably, the various college rankings.

While providing consumers with a quantifiable way to compare colleges, rankings are imperfect at accurately assessing university performance. Indicators that measure what colleges add to student knowledge and skills, or which measure management effectiveness are not widely available, which ironically contributes both to the popularity of rankings and the difficulty to obtain truly meaningful assessments of college performance. As the cost of college continues to soar, the time has come to question whether not having an effective means to evaluate colleges has exasperated the academic arms race.

This conference will ponder several questions: do rankings help or hinder intelligent decision-making by consumers and producers of higher education services? Do the rankings contribute to the “academic arms race” pushing up college costs? How should rankings change to make them more useful and productive? What sorts of additional information should colleges provide to permit better rankings and more informed consumer choices? Scholars, education leaders and rankings experts will participate in three separate panel discussions related to the issues of university performance assessment.

The schedule of events is as follows:

8:45 am - Registration

9:00 am - Assessing University Performance: The Role of Rankings

MICHAEL NOER, Executive News Editor, Forbes
MEL ELFIN, Retired, US News & World Reports
ROBERT MORSE. Director of Data Research,
US News & World Reports
LUKE MYERS, Center for College Affordability & Productivity
10:10 am - Are College Rankings Harmful or Helpful?

DOUG LEDERMAN, Co-Founder, Insider Higher Ed
PATRICK CALLAN, President, National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education
JAMES BOYLE, President, College Parents for America
STEVEN R. GOODMAN, Co-author of College Admissions Together: It Takes a Family
11:20 am - New Approaches to Assessing University Performance

ROBERT GLIDDEN, President Emeritus, Ohio University;
Former Chair, CHEA
CLIFFORD ADELMAN, Senior Associate, Institute for Higher Education Policy
CAROL G. SCHNEIDER, President, Association of American Colleges and Universities
RICHARD VEDDER, Director, Center for College Affordability & Productivity; AEI

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Question for Carey and Yglesias

by Andrew Gillen

Both Kevin Carey and Matthew Yglesias are of the opinion that the DC voucher debate is pointless. As Carey says, and Yglesias emphasizes:
The DC voucher program does not represent serious public policy... No new schools have been built as a result, no groundbreaking programs created, competition spurred, or innovators attracted.
Yglesias then goes on to say
It’s symbolically important for folks on the right who enjoy acting like know-it-alls while, in fact, knowing nothing about education policy. But in terms of the future of DC schoolchildren, it’s just a distraction.
While I'm not "on the right," I do think vouchers have a lot of potential, which apparently means I know "nothing." I'm hoping Carey and Yglesias can enlighten me.

Voucher programs, including the DC one, tend to be pretty tiny. As I see it, that is a big reason we haven't seen new schools, programs, competition, and innovation. The thing about vouchers is that they don't force students to attend a given school. So even though 1,700 voucher students is more than enough to populate a new school if they all went there, a new start up would have to believe it could enroll an unrealistically high percentage (in light of already established competitors) of them to fill a new school. The scale of voucher programs is off, which limits what we can expect out of them. (Note that Carey does consider, but isn't convinced of this point.) Thus while Carey and Yglesias are right that charters are where the action is, one reason for that is because vouchers are not done at an appropriate scale, hardly something you can blame on voucher advocates.

An example of vouchers done on a more appropriate scale is higher ed. The universally beloved Pell is essentially just a renamed voucher. It's generally agreed that higher ed is better than k-12, and I would argue that part of the reason why is it's greater voucherization.

So here are my questions for Carey and Yglesias: If vouchers are so useless, shouldn't we move away from voucher like programs such as the Pell in higher ed? If not, why is funding schools directly more appropriate for k-12 but funding students more appropriate for higher ed?

What's Hurting American Education

by Andrew Gillen

Over at This Week in Education, John Thompson vents about the ills in the education world. He thinks that today's data-driven "reformers" (his scare quotes) are causing more harm than good and recalls fondly the good fight of yesteryear:
reformers of my generation want to protect today’s children from the uncontrolled "creative destruction" of the educational marketplace.
I went through the system designed by the reformers of yesteryear, and while being protected from "uncontrolled creative destruction," was continuously subjected to ossified idiocy.

Concerning creative destruction in education, the problem is not that there is too much, but that there is too little of it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Creative Destruction Comes to Higher Education

By Richard Vedder

Walking across campus this morning, I came upon a friend, Dan Hudson, who is a pharmacist in our student health center. When I asked if the current budget crisis was impacting his operation, he said, "Yes, we are doing more with less." He added, perceptively in my view, that periodic financial crises are good, as they force universities to reevaluate what they are doing. Amen.

Arriving at my office, I read in INSIDE HIGHER ED that new admissions into Ph.D. programs are down, sometimes sharply, at many universities, including such prestigious ones as Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, Northwestern and Emory. Especially hard hit are the humanities.

Again: Amen. For decades, we have been overproducing humanities Ph.Ds. Many of them take 8-10 years to get their degree. They are terribly costly to train. Yet many end up taking jobs out of their fields, for which a lesser education, perhaps a M.B.A. or even a B.A., would suffice.

Critics of the enrollment reductions say they potentially reduce program quality. Below a certain size, it is uneconomic to offer many courses that are desirable for Ph.Ds to have. A history program with 60 students probably will teach medieval history in a graduate seminar, but when the number of students shrinks to 20, hiring a medievalist is uneconomic. It would be a shame if medieval history scholarship simply disappeared from our planet, but it is no huge tragedy, in my way of thinking, if the number of programs offering graduate work in the field falls from 100 to 25, or even to 10. Students can only study so much during three years or so of postgraduate coursework, and if some areas of the human experience are not fully examined, there are still plenty of others for which students can become conversant at a high level.


Meanwhile, the Knight Commission has been meeting to discuss sports reform. My sometime Spellings Commission pal Bob Zemsky despaired, correctly in my judgment, that until the top 40 or so athletic powerhouses are forced to do meaningful change, nothing much is going to happen; he notes that intercollegiate athletic costs have soared in the era since reformists like the Knight Commission and Drake Group have appeared on the scene. He is right. I still think 30-40 university presidents should get together and agree on radical changes, and risk the possibility of being sued by the federal government for violating the anti-trust laws. Is the Obama Administration going to sue universities for trying to contain costs? (I doubt it, but unfortunately, I am far from certain of that).

In any case, recession has brought a temporary respite from the mindless expansion of college buraucracies, the conspicious consumption of overly endowed and underly principled institutions, and other aberrations. Recessions are not all bad.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Who Should Lend?

by Andrew Gillen

Justin Fox frames the recent student loan debate in an insightful way:
Over the past two decades, student lending became a textbook case of a privately run, government-subsidized program that delivered a worse, more-expensive result than a government-run program probably would have... So now it looks like we'll put the government completely in charge of student lending. Our entire financial system currently amounts to a privately run, government-subsidized program. I don't think that means we should put the government in charge of all lending. I'm just sayin' ...
As the work showing that Direct loans (government) costs less than FFEL loans (private) has come to light, I keep hearing that the government should do all the lending. But just because FFEL is badly designed and expensive doesn't mean that there is no use for private lenders in the student loan market, and that private loans are by nature more expensive. I've been struck by the lack of what seems an obvious solution - quit subsidizing the FFEL loans.

Why are they subsidized in the first place? Right now, the government tries to set the quantity of loans (who qualifies), the price (interest rate) on loans, and the profits of the private lenders. Needless to say, the sages in Washington haven't realized that you generally can't control price and quantity at the same time, and are not too good at anticipating the trade-offs in micromanaging all of these. Last years "reforms" are a perfect case in point. As noted in Bailout of the Year in the WSJ:
Usually, the law of unintended consequences takes so long to reveal itself that no one remembers the culprits. But the speed at which Congress's student lending changes have gone south is raising political danger... But the pols can hardly repeal their autumn blunder mere moments after taking credit for it...

The result is that the same man who authored last year's bill to cut lenders' returns has crafted a new bill to subsidize those same lenders...

To summarize: Congress mandated a return on student loans that is too low to attract private capital in the current market. So Congress will now use your money to create artificial investor demand. Taxpayers will bear more risk so that Congress can fashion a new business model to replace the one it just destroyed.
Since I'm not a big fan of using taxpayer money wastefully, I won't shed any tears at the death of the current FFEL program. But acknowledging that the current system is flawed (that taxpayers are essentially guaranteeing the profits of lenders), and concluding that private lenders under any system should have no role in lending are two different things. It would be a mistake to not replace FFELP with a new and improved version. First on the list of things to go would be subsidies to lenders.

Information is Important

by Andrew Gillen
To be smart medical consumers, we need to be able to easily learn and compare prices for medical services
That is an astoundingly simple but important sentence from a eye opening piece in the WSJ about the cost of giving birth. For the three days the reporter was in the hospital, the bill was $36,625. Note that there weren't any complications. Luckily the reporter had insurance, with which the hospital negotiated a price of 17k. She paid a little over 2k out-of-pocket.

As an aside, the fact that the baby was born with it's own deductible and maximum out-of-pocket amount is too good of an excuse to show this cartoon.

But back to the main point, which is that access to accurate information is critical for consumers to make wise decisions in higher ed too. Health and education seem to have the lo-info areas switched (with outcomes being more murky with education, and price more so with health - though there is plenty of murkiness to go around). So I was pleased to see Chad Aldeman wade in on the issue. His stance is that the Federal government
should not dictate the actual decisions on the ground, but it should be able to provide information... you can pick whichever program you want, but here's some good information to inform your decision about which ones work and whether they merit their cost.
It would sort of be like an education version of the FDA but without the teeth (required approval). Since the main problem with the FDA is that it can (and it is in its interests to) prevent new drugs for too long, this strikes me as about right.

My main concern is that the function of such a federal agency would shift from identifying good ideas to enforcing their use. See the history part of the FDA on wikipedia for one instance of such mission creep. The various governments already provide huge chunks of money at all levels of education, and will continue to do so. As such, is it realistic to think that they would be happy with a largely hands off approach if a school was doing something it thought unwise? I also think that any enforcement role would quickly kill efforts at innovation (ie, how can you justify experimenting on our children with unproven techniques when we've already shown that X, Y, and Z work?).

The current problem is that innovative and effective practices can stay isolated either through lack of information about their value, or because stakeholders lack the incentives to allow changes. If mission creep caused enforcement to become a function of this hypothetical agency, I think we'd get current best practices, but at the expense of future best practices.

UPDATE: With uncanny timing to illustrate the drawbacks of an overreaching agency, the FDA says Cheerios (the cereal) may be a drug. HT: MR

Friday, May 08, 2009

More Obaminations: Racial Budget Disparities

by Daniel Bennett

Yesterday, the Obama Administration revealed its 2009-10 federal budget in its entirety. Doug Lederman has an excellent piece on the higher ed portion of the budget over at Inside Higher Ed, that includes a breakdown of the appropriations by program. Taking a cursory glance at the various program appropriations, something stuck out at me --there appears to be a huge disparity in the institutional aid being allocated towards various minority programs. Particularly, it appeared that a disproportionate amount of the institutional aid budget was appropriated to black/African American-specific programs, relative to other minority-specific programs. This prompted further analysis to determine the extent of racial disparity in the budget.

I separated the various institutional aid programs according to the specific minority group that would benefit. The 2009-10 budget for institutional aid totaled nearly $1.17 billion. Of this, $714 million was appropriated for race- or ethnicity-specific programs. Nearly $558 million of the budget is directed towards Black/African American specific programs, or 47.8% of total institutional and 78.1% of race/ethnic-specific aid programs. Hispanic-directed program appropriations totaled nearly $110 Million, representing 9.4% of total institutional and 15.3% of race/ethnic-specific aid programs. Native American, Alaskan and Hawaiian appropriations totaled nearly $47 Million, or 4% of institutional and 6.6% of race/ethnic-specific aid programs.

To gain a better understanding of how inequitable these appropriation levels are, I looked at the child population (under 18 years old) by race/ethnicity, as well as the poverty levels among these populations. According to the 2005-07 (3 year average) American Community Survey, it is estimated that Black/African Americans comprised 14.8% of the under 18 population and 35.2% of these children earned less than the poverty level. Hispanics accounted for 20.3% of the under 18 population, of which 28.2% earned less than the poverty level. Native American, Alaskan and Hawaiians made up 1.1% of the under 18 population, of which 31.9% earned less than the poverty level. The 2 groups that did not receive any directed appropriations in the 2009-10 budget are whites (not Hispanic) and Asian-Americans, which accounted for 57.3% and 3.9% of the under 18 population, of which 10.8% and 12% earned less than the poverty level, respectively.

Nearly 376,000 (10%) more Hispanic children are living in poverty than African Americans, yet the latter group received 400% times the directed funding as the former. Nearly 4.5 million white children are living in poverty, or 720,000 more than African Americans, yet the former group received zero in direct program appropriations. Over 344,000 Asian children live in poverty, but there was no program-specific funding for this group either.

If the social goal is to provide equal opportunities for the disadvantaged, then policies need to be implemented in a manner that does not favor one group over another. An impoverished child is an impoverished child, regardless of his origin or skin color. This is but one example of flawed social engineering that knowingly rewards one group at the peril of another.

Wisconsin Si, Ohio Non!!!

By Richard Vedder

I have long felt that a larger proportion of Americans doing post secondary education need to be in two year institutions, either community colleges or for profit schools, some of them offering valuable certificate training and skills. Some research recently confirms this, and some politicians are ignoring it.

First to the research. I met Sara Goldrick-Rab a few weeks back (I think at a Lumina Foundation conference), and I thought I would be turned off by her --she was a sociologist, which to economists is roughly the lowest form of academic humanity. Moreover, she teaches at Wisconsin, a hotbed of zany progressive ideas that for the most part, when implemented, lowered the quality of American life (in my opinion --most would disagree). But I liked Sara. She is young, enthusiastic, and passionate about her work --good qualities in any scholar or teacher.

Sara, in new work for the Brookings Institution, argues that there is no way we are to even approach President Obama's access goals without emphasizing community colleges. They are much more affordable than four years schools. They reach out to nontraditional students. They emphasis basic no frills instruction at an affordable price. If we increased the proportion of students in community colleges and do absolutely nothing else, we can lower the per student costs by at least 10-15 percent (say by going to a model where 60 percent of students go to these two year institutions, instead of 40 percent or less today). When resources are scarce (to most persons outside the Washington Beltway), this is the only reasonable way to expand access, if that is indeed desirable (which I must say I doubt).

Anyway, Sara is on the right track, and it is good to see an academic (and she has coauthors working with her) interested in calling more attention to community colleges.


25-30 percent of increases in enrollments in higher education these days are found in for profit institutions, many of them operating two year associate degree or certificate programs. The Ohio House of Representative voted to drastically reduce funding for these types of institutions. Why? Their growth has been substantial in a state with a static population, suggesting they are increasingly popular with the public. Shouldn't we encourage rather than discourage these institutions? Is private enterprise becoming a dirty word every where in America, even in stodgy Ohio which is usually the last state to jump onto political bandwagons, in this case Barack Obama's scheme to make this a Socialist Republic? Hopefully, the Ohio Senate, for the most part a group of uninspired political hacks without much backbone and utterly devoid of any sense of principle, will have an epiphany and say no to this attempt to stomp out the attack on this vibrant and productive higher education sector.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Links 4/5/09

by Andrew Gillen

Inside Higher Ed has a quite fascinating interview with a student loan reform advocate. I’ve just bought the book.

Neal McCluskey and Kevin Carey agree that saying states have abandoned funding for higher ed and that is why tuition is going up is incorrect.

Chickens are partly responsible for killing Detroit. Really. Robert Lawrence explains.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Europe As An Alternative to the NCAA's Exploitation of Student Athletes

by Daniel Bennett

Jeremy Tyler, the 6'11", 260 lb high school basketball phenom, must have read my colleague Matt Denhart's recent blog concerning the NCAA's exploitation of college athletes. Tyler, a junior in high school, last week announced that he was going to not only forgo college, but also to skip his senior year of high school, to turn pro. And I'm not talking about the NBA. Tyler is heading to Europe to play professional basketball and is expected to earn a six figure starting salary. His plan is to gain professional experience until he is eligible for the NBA draft in 2011.

On a cost-benefit-analysis, Tyler is making a great decision. He is giving up zero income for his senior year of high school, and missing out on a measly scholarship package (worth approximately $50,000) from the college of his choice, which he certainly doesn't intend to graduate from. During those two years, Tyler will earn at least $150,000 more (probably closer to a quarter million) than he would have if he played another year of high school and a year in college -- due to the NBA's requiring propects to sit out one year post-high school. Not to mention the fact that he stands a good chance to improve his pro stock by playing against better talent in international pro ball, as opposed to dominating high school kids, as well as potential paydays from endorsement deals.

It seems that this young man already understands the basics of economics, so he is not going to miss much from a principles of economics course during freshman year. Tyler's decision may kick start a trend among high school phenoms. The NCAA lobby will probably intensify because of this, as they stand to miss out on millions in ticket sales and endorsement deals if more of the country's top players follow suit.

Friday, May 01, 2009

CCAP Podcasts

Today, in CCAP's inaugeral podcast Richard Vedder discusses the role incentives and power play in higher education.

You can stream the audio from our website or download the MP3 directly by cliking here.