For some time, Instapundit Glenn Reynolds has talked about the Higher Education bubble and it inevitably popping. This SC Times article might be proof that that bubble is about to pop:

Central Minnesotans focused on this area’s quality of life shouldn’t hit the panic button, but they should be concerned about the latest enrollment numbers from St. Cloud State University and the St. Cloud Technical & Community College.

As reported last week, St. Cloud State’s annual 30-day enrollment number fell almost 6 percent to 17,231, down about 1,100 students. St. Cloud Technical & Community College saw a 3.1 percent decrease, from 4,810 to 4,660 students.

While both universities anticipated declines, the size of St. Cloud State’s deserves particular attention, which is why it’s good to know university officials are looking for more details about trends in specific programs.

Declining enrollments don’t automatically prove that tuition costs are too high. Still, that can’t be ruled out as an explanation for declining enrollments. It’s quite possible that other factors contribute to the decline. Things like expensive books don’t help cash-strapped students.

Perhaps, potential students are staying away to avoid going into debt. They’re already staring at the possibility of higher taxes to pay for this generation’s indulgent lifestyle and the Democrats’ reckless spending.

There’s alot wrong with America’s Higher Education system. Anytime that a system is top-heavy with administrators, tuition is likely to take a hit.

Newt Gingrich exposes the administrators’ bubble in this video. Starting just before the 32:00 minute mark, here’s what Speaker Gingrich said:

Why do colleges have so many bureaucrats? There’s a study that shows, by 2014, we will have virtually the same number of administrators and clerks that we have teachers in higher education. Now one-to-one might be an interesting model if it’s student-teacher but one-to-one as bureaucrat to teacher strikes me as an absurdity.

Go and look through why these schools are expensive. And what we’ve done with student aid is…with student loans is we’ve made it possible for students to live beyond their means for longer than they should, selling off their future and then, suddenly, when they get out of school, they realize “Oh, I borrowed that much”?

If you think about it, this is not a very smart model for a country because it sells short the future, maximizes the present and doesn’t teach students true cost. And what the president did yesterday is very destructive. It just expands the bubble. Higher Education last year, I think this is correct, the public universities for the fifth straight year, rose in expense faster than private universities.

It seems to me that, before ‘investing in higher education’, an auditing firm should go through every state’s university system, then produce a report outlining the inordinate amount of abuses they find.

It isn’t even a matter of asking whether they’d find an outlandish number of abuses. It’s a matter of finding out the extent and scope of the abuses and mismanagement in the current higher education system.

Why shouldn’t a question be posed to every administrator, asking them to explain what they’re doing that improves educational excellence? If they can’t give a solid, quantifiable answer justifying their salary, shouldn’t that money be saved by eliminating that position immediately?

The next question I’d ask is quite simple. If we started banking the savings by eliminating positions filled by administrators’ cronies, wouldn’t student tuitions drop significantly? If they didn’t, would that, at minimum, save the states’ taxpayers money spend on ‘higher education’?

The current system is a mess that’s needed a major overhaul for a quarter century. If you don’t think that’s true, think of this: in the 1990’s, Newt Gingrich was talking about kids having learning tools that resemble today’s Kindles and IPads.

Back then, he was advocating for their use as a 24/7 lifelong learning device to keep pace with the rapidly expanding knowledge base. Back then, people looked at him like he was nuts.

Fast forward to today and the bureaucrats and unions still resist changing to that type of learning, at least in a formal setting, because it’d mean teachers and administrators would lose their six-figure salaried jobs.

As a society, we should demand that the expansive and expensive labyrinth of administrators, agencies and do-nothing bureaucrats be dismantled. We should demand that universities’ tuitions drop, the bureaucracies trimmed significantly and that students only have the option of graduating with a degree that actually helps students be a productive part of the private sector.

Anything short of that is unacceptable.

Technorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Shrinking college enrollment proof of Higher Education bubble?”

  • Patrick Mattson says:

    I wonder why no one ever talks about “big education”? Higher education encourages students to take out massive loans so they, the schools, can delay the inevitable: a smaller, less costly organization. New academic buildings are nice but I wonder who really pays for them. College costs have risen 467% since 1985 while the inflation rate has increased 115%. When I worked as an adviser to new, incoming students I was told to ensure the students take at least 15 credits even though some were not prepared or could not afford it.

    There is hope as we are getting more light on the subject like Newt has done and these New York Post and Times articles
    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/college_loan_scam_nC7ICPN37lYStja83PBSaN
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/03/education/03college.html

  • J. Ewing says:

    What struck me about Newt’s pitch was the “class size of 1” achieved through technology, and the Florida Virtual Classroom where one teacher “assists” hundreds of students. That ideal scenario, though, means we need about 20% of the teachers we now have, and could reduce costs by roughly 80%, as well.

Leave a Reply