Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"The per-student argument makes mathematical sense... And yet... using this metric as the gold standard seems to miss something important about the function of the student at the public university today."

see reclaim UC: The Political Economy of Enrollment

Now, the UC administration claims that the cost of instruction is greater than in-state tuition. But these claims are at best debatable and at worst simply not credible, because as Chris Newfield and Bob Samuels have shown they include research and other non-educational expenses in order to inflate the alleged instructional cost. (It's gotten to the point that, as Samuels observes, the administration literally claims it costs $342,500 to educate one medical student for one year.) According to Newfield, a more reasonable estimate of the cost of instruction for undergraduates would be somewhere between 40-80 percent of the administration’s figures. Even using the higher rate, then, the administration still generates a net profit for every extra student they bring in.

Per-student funding can be a useful metric for clarifying certain trends, but it’s equally important to understand the things it makes invisible. University administrators make decisions about enrollment not out of some abstract interest in the “public good” but rather out of a very concrete interest in the bottom line. Enrollment should not be treated as a given but as a variable that may shift as executives and financial officers seek to optimize revenue flows. In this context, using per-student funding may obscure the function of the student today while deflecting antagonism toward the state.


Higher education: Should college be free for all?
by Carol Christ, director, Center for Studies in Higher Education

it includes many interesting rebuttal comments, including:
Carol: You know better then to offer these distorted and simplistic answers.

The present tuition charges for UC undergraduates amounts to much more than the actual per-student cost for UC to provide undergraduate education.

There is a distorted accounting habit that charges all of professors’ academic year salary and benefits as an “Expenditure for Instruction,” when we know that the primary incentive for UC professors is to produce research. One may argue about the division between “public” and “private” benefit of an undergraduate education; but there is no doubt that the research mission of UC (and other national research universities) is a public benefit.

Pushing that hidden cost of research onto the tuition bills of undergraduate students and their families is a dishonest practice that must be corrected if our great universities want to continue to have public support.

Charles Schwartz

studying clouds in 3D

No comments:

Post a Comment