‘there has been a severe contraction in the quality of higher education’

by Grace

In writing about the higher education bubble, Jerry Bowyer had this observation.

Furthermore, there has been a severe contraction in the quality of higher education in America. Did we really think we could open the floodgates and not affect the quality of graduates? Can you turn college into the new high school, and not get high school-like results?  Grade inflation will only keep the problem concealed for so long before the general public becomes aware that outside of a few highly challenging programs and majors, the quality of American higher education is plummeting. Graduates are mastering fewer facts, can’t think critically about the facts they have mastered, and can’t express whatever ideas they have mastered in clear, cogent, grammatically correct sentences. Employers already know this.

Professor Mark Perry thinks most college professors would agree with Bowyer.  As others have, Perry compares the housing bubble to the higher education bubble.

Similarity between ‘good renters’ and ‘good high school graduates’

It seems clear now that because of dual political obsessions, we have “oversold” both homeownership and college education to the American people, by artificially lowering the costs through government intervention and subsidies.  As economic theory tells us, if you subsidize something you get more of it, and that’s what happened with both homeownerhip and college education – but we got too much of it, and that has led to twin bubbles.  Just like government policies turned “good renters into bad homeowners,” it’s now apparent that government policies have turned “good high school graduates, many of whom should have pursued tw0-year degrees or other forms of career training, into unemployable college graduates with excessive levels of student loan debt that can’t be discharged.”  Perhaps economics textbooks in the future can illustrate the concept of “government failure” with these two examples of government-induced, unsustainable bubbles?

Just as too many unqualified home buyers took on mortgages in the run-up to the housing bubble, maybe too many unprepared high school graduates are enrolling in college.

Related:  Typical undergrad ‘could not write a paper or solve an algebra problem’

One Comment to “‘there has been a severe contraction in the quality of higher education’”

  1. Here’s a similarity: A lot of the housing put up during the bubble era is of very low quality, put together by anybody who could hold a hammer, and yet was very expensive six or seven years ago.


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