Tag Archives: Richard Vedder


Bubble Update: More Helium, Part 1

The bubble in American higher education is inflating rapidly. Ironically this is happening just at the moment when large numbers of Americans are noticing that there is indeed a higher-ed bubble—that colleges and universities are enrolling too many students at too high a price; that the market for college graduates is saturated and oversupplied; and that there is a serious disparity between the costs and the rewards of the typical college-degree program.

One might think that parents who have som…


A Culture of Evasion

The dreadful scandal at Penn State reached another level on July 12, with the 250-page report of former FBI director Louis Freeh to the university’s board of trustees, culminating a seven-month independent investigation. The report makes clear the complicity of senior officials at the university in covering up convicted child molester and former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual assaults on children. The officials include head football coach, the late Joe Paterno, university p…


Remediating America: on the Consultations of FSG

President Obama and most of the higher-education establishment is in full cry for a large expansion in the number of students who attend and who complete college. We are told this is a priority because it would be good for the nation’s economy and good for the students. Be that as it may, there would be other beneficiaries of such an expansion. A recent report inadvertently highlights this. It offers an answer of sorts to “Who benefits?”

In February, FSG, “a nonprofit consulting firm specializ…


College for All: Obama’s Higher-Education Agenda, Part 3 of 8

President Obama’s agenda for higher education includes the goal of having nearly all Americans receive at least one year of formal education beyond high school. For shorthand, he has often referred to this extra year as “college,” which has prompted controversy. College for all? He referred to this in his January 24 State of the Union address as part of “the basic American promise,” namely:

if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and…


Too Much for Too Little

Richard Vedder’s Innovations post, “Universities and Income Equality: New Evidence and Conjectures,” deserves serious attention. I was going to post a comment, but it struck me as perhaps more useful to offer some additional context.

Vedder offers a tentative finding that since 1970, we have had diminishing returns in the attempt to reduce income inequality by expanding the percentage of the population that holds college degrees. His finding contradicts a number of other studies and those differ…


Investing in Debt

News item:

Under the debt ceiling deal signed into law on Tuesday, government-subsidized loans for graduate and professional students across the nation will be eliminated in July 2012. Those students will begin paying interest on their loans while still in school, or let it accumulate.

—Associated Press, August 3, 2011.

A Wall Street analyst:

The longer-run outlook for students lending and borrowers remains worrisome. Unlike other segments of the consumer credit economy, student loans have not d…


The Returns on an HBCU Education

The Review of Black Political Economy just published a new article entitled “The Relative Returns to Graduating from a Historically Black College/University: Propensity Score Matching Estimates from the National Survey of Black Americans.” The authors include economists Gregory Price (Morehouse College), William Springs (Howard University), and Omari Swinton (Howard University). Relying on data from the National Survey of Black Americans, the paper adds to the growing literature on the labor m…


Telling a Better Story about HBCU’s

Last week I attend a day full of events at the National Press Club in Washington. The National Association for Equal Opportunity (NAFEO), an advocacy group for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as well as Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), sponsored the day. The day focused on refuting negative perceptions of HBCUs, the ranking of HBCUs by U.S. News and World Report (I moderated that session), and HBCUs’ relationships with the media. As with any conference on HBCUs…


Protest Envy

Today, April 13, has been declared “Take Class Action Day” by the AAUP and a collection of faculty unions, which have called for a “teach-in.” We are invited to contemplate the seven “Guiding Principles” for the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education. The project originated with the California Faculty Association last fall, which summoned the support of other faculty unions at a conference in January.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on the January conference, and in February, Jas…


Richard Vedder on the Ills of Higher Education

Richard Vedder, a retired economist from Ohio University and fellow Innovations blogger, makes a radical, macroeconomic argument about why college costs so much in what is perhaps his most influential book, Going Broke By Degrees: Why College Costs Too Much (2004). Indeed, he goes beyond a critique of the contemporary college by wondering if we need universities at all.

He muses: “Are universities vital? Perhaps, but the process of learning and discovery existed before they came into being …