An exercise in hypothetical reasoning.

Arthur M. Hauptman, educational policy consultant, gives us this bold 1560-word essay that suggests that public universities facing budget woes should consider expansion:

The recent protests in California and elsewhere reinforce how politically difficult it is to cap enrollments and raise tuition when dealing with cutbacks in state funding for higher education.

The intensity of the protests in California also raises questions about why officials there did not make the less difficult decision of maintaining or increasing enrollments without raising tuition fees, or raising them modestly. This is a strategy that more public and institutional officials across the country and around the world should consider as they deal with continuing shortfalls in public funding for higher education.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t give us the most important part of his “theory” until near the end:
[I]f current tuition fee levels are greater than the marginal costs associated with enrolling more students, such as hiring more faculty or leasing additional space, this strategy makes a great deal of economic sense.
To the word “if” I would add the qualifier, “only”.  The second commenter at the article itself, I think, explains why this is probably solely an exercise in hypothetical reasoning.


  1. This sounds a lot like the strategy of the US auto companies in focusing obssessively on *volume* to spread the fixed costs of their manufacturing plants and union workforce over a larger number of units.