Where Can Colleges Cut Back?

Wilkinson asks why moving courses online is a better option than trimming administrative bloat:

[S]tudents have faced rapidly rising tuition costs not due to large increases in the cost of instruction, but mostly due to the dramatic, rapid growth of the university bureaucratic class, which offers nothing of obvious worth to the education of their universities’ increasingly cash-strapped and indebted students.

According to a 2010 study on administrative bloat from the libertarian Goldwater Institute, tuition tripled from 1993 to 2007 at my own school, the University of Houston. Over that period, instructional spending per student changed not at all, while administrative spending per pupil nearly doubled. This is fairly representative of the national pattern. This seems to me to suggest that state university systems might first seek savings in leaner management before outsourcing instruction to glorified versions of YouTube. Public-university systems might take a page from Sweden, a paradisaical Scandinavian social democracy, which outsources to private companies the management of some of its public hospitals, as Schumpeter discusses, and recommends. In any case, it’s outrageous that students should be made to pay ever more to support assistants to assistant deans, in exchange for the right to earn a degree filling in worksheets and ignoring videotapes from home.

Recent Dish on MOOCs here, here and here.