Heather Mac Donald: ‘Higher Education Today Resembles a Massive Ponzi Scheme’
“Administrative positions at colleges and universities grew at ten times the rate of tenured faculty positions from 1993 to 2009”
It’s hard to argue with this analysis. Mac Donald hits the mark.
She writes at City Journal:
Call It a Ponzi Scheme
Higher education today resembles a massive Ponzi scheme. Colleges desperately recruit ever more marginal students who stand little chance of graduating. Before their inevitable withdrawal, those students’ tuition dollars fuel the growth of the bureaucracy, which creates the need to get an even larger pool of likely dropouts through the door to fund the latest round of administrative expansion. Administrative positions at colleges and universities grew at ten times the rate of tenured faculty positions from 1993 to 2009, according to academic consulting firm ABC Insights.
By the 2013 school year, there were slightly more campus administrators nationwide than faculty; spending on the bureaucracy was equal to spending on all educational functions, including faculty. Tuition rose to cover those bureaucratic expenses, regardless of whether families could afford to pay it. Tuition at private four-year colleges grew 250 percent from 1982 to 2012, while the median family income rose about 18 percent, adjusted for inflation, according to ABC Insights. Since the 2008 recession, tuition at four-year public colleges rose 35 percent.
The coming higher-ed crisis would, in an ideal world, take out the student-services bureaucracy—that dizzying edifice of associate vice chancellors for student engagement and assistant vice presidents for student development—starting with its most destructive component: the diversocrats. Their job is founded on a patently false proposition: that colleges are filled with racists and sexists who impede the advancement of females, blacks, and Hispanics.
To the contrary, virtually every college today is trying to admit, hire, and promote as many females, blacks, and Hispanics as possible. Belonging to those identity categories confers a large advantage on the academic job market and in admissions. Nevertheless, the diversity bureaucracy spends its days devising new ways to promote the culture of victimhood, at the cost of millions of dollars in student loans and private tuition.
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From the article: “This narrative reflects the experience of the nation’s elite degree holders, who are largely clueless about work that does not involve sitting at a desk and using a computer.”
The same could be said about the Wuhan coronavirus shutdown.
Bureaucrats can largely do electronic paper-pushing from home, or they are essential and can continue to do it from the office. Armies of people in service businesses cannot work.
Maybe we needed the shutdown when we just didn’t know. At this point, we can see that the health care system is nowhere near overwhelmed. While there are facilities that are “on diversion,” the projections of overrunning all hospital beds in New York by multiples, for example, are, thankfully, not even close to reality.
Administrative bloat is just one of the major factors in rising college expenses. Here is a quick list of the largest factors.
1. Administrative bloat, of course. The ratio of administrators to faculty has doubled in the past 20 years at many schools. Administrators are paid more than faculty, and the more assistants they hire the better they are paid.
2. Research. At many private schools and virtually all state schools, faculty are promoted and tenured based only on their research. Research is expensive, and the true costs are buried in the “Resident Instruction” budget. I know because I used to help bury these expenses.
3. Athletics. Many schools make large investments in athletics, particularly football and basketball. They pay their coaches far too much, and they have far too many assistant coaches. In most states, the most highly paid state employees are athletic coaches. They like to say they pay their way, but the vast majority don’t.
4. Country club atmosphere. When I was in college, we lived in tiny, dumpy dorm rooms and ate marginal food. Now, colleges entice students with fancy dorms, expensive food, and great recreational facilities. They use expensive amenities and facilities to compete for the dwindling numbers of students.
Demoncrat and RINO (a.k.a., zombie Demoncrats) career criminal politicians are guilty of ponzu schemes every time they pass a spending bill because there is no balanced budget amendment and no term limits.
It’s the biggest this side of maddoff, obama, and the China virus scam.
Wonder if anyone’s ever publicized an honest, detailed look at why so many of the ‘titles’ noted in the source article sound like they’re directly out of every Peoples’ Party playbook…