Tuesday, July 08, 2008

$7,376 U --with Quality

By Richard Vedder

One of the positive fringe benefits of running a small think tank is that you get to make new friends and meet interesting new people with intriguing ideas. One such person is Vance Fried. Vance is a lawyer by training who has become a senior management professor at Oklahoma State University, and has done some excellent thinking about the production of higher education services.

Today, Vance has a nice piece in INSIDE HIGHER EDUCATION where he claims you can offer a high quality education for $7,376 a year --total cost. The article is a teaser for the longer (about 40 page) study that CCAP is producing and will release in the next week or so.

How does Vance do it? Universities that are inexpensive cannot be all things to all people, and Vance sharply limits the number of majors and the number of courses taught. A proliferation of electives is one reason instructional costs are high. Vance hires (in his mind) relatively few teachers, gives them reasonable teaching loads, but has pretty large classes --low student-teacher ratios wreak havoc with costs. Vance has a lean and mean administrative structure. He uses technology intelligently. And so on.

As Vance himself admits, others might not like the type of school he has concocted from his imagination, and might prefer different course emphases, etc. But a school built from the ground up that focuses just on fundamentals can educate a student in a reasonably quality fashion for $10,000 or less per student a year --less than half of what a typical public university spends. Over half the cost of higher education goes for various things that do not directly impact on learning --low teaching loads for research, underutilized facilities related to the peculiarities of the academic calendar, huge expenses related to "student services" and extracurricular activities and public relations specialists and diversity coordinators --most of which could be eliminated. Vance, by the way, believes some extracurricular activities are part of college life, and even budgets for relatively low cost teams in some sports. If the University of Phoenix can educate kids for $10,000 or less a year, so can a traditional university that lacks all the costly trappings of the modern day academy.

I commend Vance's article in today's INSIDE HIGHER EDUCATION, and recommend as well the forthcoming CCAP study.


capeman said...

Vance Fried must have made a major discovery -- a quality higher education model for less than the cost of most public (and a good many private) high schools.

Why hasn't Oklahoma State, where he is professor of management, utilized and publicized this national treasure?

Why hasn't the venture capital world flocked to the doors of the professor of management to exploit this amazing opportunity?

After all, Professor Fried (who inexplicably hangs around his outmoded campus) has none other than T. Boone Pickens as benefactor of his present school's sports program, to the tune of many tens of millions of dollars.

Surely someone of Professor Fried's capability could persuade Mr. Pickens of the amazing opportunities awaiting him!

capeman said...

It gets better. The title of the piece in Inside Higher Education is

"Better-Than-Ivy Education: $7,376 a Year"

So the professor of management at Oklahoma State has figured out how to beat Harvard about 1/8 the expenditure (going by Harvard's claims about how much they actually spend per undergraduate).

I happen to know a bit about higher education in Oklahoma. They need this guy's help. The Oklahoma legislature better take advantage of this hidden treasure before he goes on to bigger and better things!

RWW said...

There are people who generate new ideas to provoke thought and discussion. Then there are those who like the status quo and stand on the sidelines and bitch.

If I work for a company, that does not preclude me from putting forth ideas on how a start-up company could do things more effectively at a lower cost. I believe this is called "innovation". And the initial idea is not typically the ultimate solution, rather, it is the beginning of a new way of doing things.

I believe that all the diversity bullshit and things like "African American Studies" is unmitigated barnyard fertizer. You can't teach cultural change. It has to be learned as part of participating in societal dealings.I would venture to say "Lesbian Studies" would be easier to add to the curriculum than,say, "Semiconductor manufacturing and processes".
Whenever CCAP pisses off the higher ed establishment,I know they are doing something right.

capeman said...

Uh, cowboy. If you work at a normal company and you put forth a public plan to undermine your employer, the result is typically what is know as "termination".

On the other hand, "innovation" is when you actually quit your old job, take a risk, and try to put your great idea into practice.

Not, as you put it pretty well, standing on the sidelines and bitching about the status quo. Especially not from a paid position with tenture. That is not innovation and it is certainly not risk-taking.

Eveningsun said...

Cowboy, did you know there are programs in Jewish Studies (Harvard, Oxford, Princeton, Columbia, Indiana University, Michigan, SUNY-Albany and many others), and in Italian American Studies, Irish American Studies, and German American Studies?

Do you think these programs are also "unmitigated barnyard fert[il]izer"? Are such programs only legit as long as they concern groups you approve? I'm just trying to suss out whether your comments are ignorant, racist, or what.

RWW said...

Caveman - good try, but your rebuttal is convoluted hyperbole and I don't work 24 hour days.

Eveningsun - The substance of your reply was anticipated by me with the same certainty that the sun would rise in the east this morning.

The answer to your first question is, "Hell yes". The answer to your second question is "what".

Don't try to label me. And get off the race baiting bullshit bandwagon. You PC people have played the race card so much that you have watered it down to the point that racist has more definitions than the population of China. It is an overused, tired, empty word. You race baiters have yelled FIRE in the theatre so many times, nobody is running for the exits anymore (except politicians). The diversity police and PC crowd yell "RACIST" first and define it in a manner that justifies their accusation in an attempt to silence those they disagree with.

So as far as being "ignorant" (which is a huge laugh if you knew me), or "racist", well, I'll let you decide - because what you think is of very little concern to me.

If you girls want to go ahead and continue this juvenile exchange, go right on ahead. Unfortunately, I will not have the chance to read your comments since I will not have internet access for months.

RWW said...

Eveningslug - my apologies - you had three questions. My answers follow: Question 1: I suspected as much. Do they have Lichtenstein Studies?

Question 2. Hell yes.

Question 3. (This is a stupid question) No. However, I don't think these classes are effective and I'm not the person who gives these diversity "classes" legitimacy. I believe these classes are for flunkies who need a passing grade.

Eveningsun said...

Thanks for the clarification, Cowboy. Always good to know what one is dealing with.