All posts by Richard Vedder


The Cost of Higher Access: Harry Stille’s Data

There are two persons of radically different political perspectives whose single-minded devotion to gathering and disseminating data on higher education set them apart from the rest of us: Tom Mortenson of Post Secondary Higher Education Opportunity, and Harry Stilles, of the Higher Education Research/Policy Center. Tom is a self-described “Minnesota socialist” dedicated to improving higher-education access, while Harry is a decidedly more conservative retired professor and legislator from South…


They Just Don’t Get It

Sen. Tom Harkin has issued his final report on for-profit higher education, a book-length indictment of one-tenth of American higher education, the for-profit sector. Obviously I have not had an opportunity yet to read the full report (I’ve been traveling for the past week or so), but from news reports alone, I see huge problems with it, much of it related to either an ignorance or contempt for how the capitalistic system of free enterprise does a very good job of delivering the goods—lots of …


Louis Freeh and University Governance

Can some good come out of the Penn State tragedy? Former FBI director Louis Freeh has authored a remarkable, lengthy and brutally frank report that finds fault with lots of people at Penn State. But a group that has heretofore received only modest criticism gets a lot from Freeh—the Board of Trustees. And, reading news reports of the findings, it appears Freeh’s view of the role of boards is very similar to mine, and highly consistent with an idea I have been promoting with increasing frequency …


The College-Graduate Glut: Evidence From Labor Markets

The price system works marvelously to allocate resources in our society, but in higher education, prices often do not reflect the true value society places on resource usage, as they are often distorted by a variety of policies. The price of elite colleges, for example, is actually well below what demand-and-supply conditions would warrant, while the price of college in general has been distorted upward by extravagant federal student financial-assistance programs (although some would argue with …


No Boredom in Board-dom

College governing boards are becoming pretty uppity, actually thinking they have a real, not ceremonial role to play in governing universities. Next thing you know, Britain’s constitutional monarch, Queen Elizabeth will decide to suspend Parliament and fire the Prime Minister. To be sure, there are limits to the attempts by boards to assert leadership—the University of Virginia board capitulated to the university community by returning power to them that the board rightfully possess by Virgini…


‘Ditch…the College-for-All Crusade’

Robert J. Samuelson (photo by Fritz Blakey from Washington Post News Media Services site)

The highly respected columnist Bob Samuelson, writing for the Washington Post, recently wrote: “The college-for-all crusade has outlived its usefulness. Time to ditch it… We overdid it. The obsessive faith in college has backfired.” He brilliantly points out most of the reasons for these assertions.

The two most important reasons are, first, that an unintended consequence of the college-for-all movement has…



A generation ago Charles Sykes wrote a controversial, provocative, but I think 90 percent correct book, ProfScam. I think a better than decent case can be made for a new book, a sequel if you will, called CollegeScam. Professors are not the only ones engaged in using higher education for personal power and glory.

“Is College Too Easy?” is the headline of a superb story by Daniel de Vise on page one of today’s Washington Post. In it, de Vise presents in substantial detail data from the National S…


Riley, Texas, Bubba Jocks, Academic Conformity, Mob Rule, and the Real World

For all the lip service about universities being “market places of ideas” and havens for unpopular thoughts, three stories over the last week or two drive home the reality that there is a clamor by many  in the academic community for either ideological conformity or resistance to “interference” from the Real World that feeds it.

Naomi Riley puts up a blog that said what I believe many people in higher education have long believed but were largely afraid to say: Black-studies programs in the Unit…


Trillion-Dollar Misunderstanding: The 7 Sins of Federal Student Loans

Charles Miller, chair of the Spellings Commission, reminded me the other day that that panel in its report referred to the federal financial aid system as “dysfunctional.” I think I (as a member of the commission) picked the word and Charles seized upon it. More than five years have passed, and the system now has been promoted to “uber dysfunctional.”

Let me outline seven problems or “sins” with the program, some of which I outlined earlier in a piece for National Review Online.

1. The low inter…


College Sports and the Seven Deadly Sins

Greed arguably ranks high on the list. (Photo by Flickr/CC user Muffet)

My  colleague Roy Boyd and I were complaining about the latest excesses in intercollegiate athletics (ICA) at our school (Ohio University), when Roy opined that a large number of the seven deadly sins were involved. Upon further reflections, I think all seven of those sins have been part of the ICA scene in recent years.

I will use a slightly updated (from Biblical times) list of the sins as used by Dante in the Divine Comed…