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Op-Ed: Coronavirus Could Pop the Higher Education Bubble

Op-Ed: Coronavirus Could Pop the Higher Education Bubble

“Once a large university proves it can provide a reasonable facsimile of its course offerings without the enormous expense, students may start to demand they do so”

I have been wondering about this very thing. Christian Schneider of the College Fix is on to something here:

How COVID-19 may be the needle that completely pops the higher education bubble

To promote social distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, universities across America have sent students home and are conducting classes remotely, via online video.

According to one count, nearly 99 percent of all American law schools have moved online to protect students against the coronavirus. One would be hard-pressed to find a college or university that has not done the same.

Of course, “distance learning” is nothing new. According to data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics, 34.7 percent of all American college students took at least one online class in fall of 2018, up from 33.1 percent the year before. Nearly 40 percent of graduate students currently take at least some of their classes online.

But when large universities shift their course offerings online during a global pandemic, it might get students wondering – why would they continue to pay exorbitant fees for dorms, meal plans, and parking, when they can get the same instruction sitting at home in front of their computers?

Once a large university proves it can provide a reasonable facsimile of its course offerings without the enormous expense, students may start to demand they do so…

But the subtext is very different — no doubt some academics are concerned that if professors did a good job of promoting online education, it could make many other academic jobs obsolete.

University faculty members promoting online education would be akin to McDonald’s employees singing the wonders of automated ordering machines that will eventually cost them all their jobs.

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Comments

You mean they don’t need the huge, ugly, oversaffed Department of Diversity to engage in male-shaming, white-shaming, and anti-Christian propoganda for a few million every year?

no doubt some academics are concerned that if professors did a good job of promoting online education, it could make many other academic jobs obsolete.

When we consider how the academic oligarchy managed to turn those new-fangled “print on demand” textbooks into a new (and lucrative) money stream, I doubt they’ll have any difficulty finding some new way to turn online courses into yet another way to rifle students’ piggy banks.

    CorkyAgain in reply to tom_swift. | March 18, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    As I pointed out in another thread, the plan is to rifle the taxpayers’ piggy-banks, under the guise of “free tuition”.

    — and since the Left believes that the taxpayer’s wallet is a cornucopia that can never be exhausted, they see no limit on how much can be extracted from it.

The Friendly Grizzly | March 18, 2020 at 10:05 am

Something else to consider: will this possibly be a bridge to going back to apprenticeship programs?

    I think the fact that the “credential” the colleges are selling is becoming more and more worthless — for all the reasons that are well-known around here — will be what eventually leads to the return of the apprenticeship model.

” it might get students wondering – why would they continue to pay exorbitant fees for dorms, meal plans, and parking, when they can get the same instruction sitting at home in front of their computers?”

Because what the schools are selling is not really “education”; they’re selling the credential.

Education in a wide variety of subjects is available today at low or no cost, but so long as accredited and name-brand schools maintain a lock on that all-important credential, they’ll have something to sell. Dearly.

And students will do whatever they must to obtain it.

Liberal arts colleges are vinyl and this crisis has just forced them to copy everything to mp3 files. Ironic that the crisis was fueled in a major way by all of the colleges closing down in lock-step, never for a second seeing the unintended consequences down the road when they discover that their product can be packaged so much more cheaply.

This is one way to ease the perpetual parking shortage at most universities.

There’s another consideration. All those buildings will still need to be maintained and guarded by Plant Ops, Housekeeping, and Security, even if – maybe especially if – they are vacant. Vandals and homeless squatters can break in. An undiscovered roof leak or broken water pipe is a disaster, and uncontrolled temperature and humidity can be, too. Many don’t understand that mold growing in a building can easily make a multimillion dollar structure unusable because somebody thought they could save a dollar by turning off the heat and cooling. Beautiful, almost new buildings have been torn down because of it. Pardon me, but mold abatement is nothing to sneeze at.

This should be getting even more interesting by the end of 2020.
.

Plus, if students are studying at home, parents will have a real view of what their student is being taught and what they are paying for. Dinner time discussions will let the family refute the hogwash. I think it is a wonderful if unintended consequence.

Will that mean the little darlings will be forced to go to their local neighborhood bar–how pedestrian

“why would they continue to pay exorbitant fees for dorms, meal plans, and parking, when they can get the same instruction sitting at home in front of their computers?”

You answered your own question: otherwise they would probably be at home. Most 18- to 22- year olds look forward to college as an opportunity to live on their own, and among their peers. Life would be very different and much duller if they had to stay home, endure parental supervision, and have more difficulty interacting with other young adults.

(This incidentally is a benefit of college not mentioned often enough: it is an opportunity to grow up, to define oneself as socially—if not financially—independent of one’s adolescent milieu, and to meet a larger circle of one’s peers, some with the same interests. It is also an opportunity to have more sexual encounters. If the environment also happens to be intellectually more enriching, and the student in question avails himself of these resources, so much the better. None of this happens sitting at home in front of your computer.)

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