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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Colleges can cut costs by getting back to basics

If colleges and universities got back to basics -- teaching and worthwhile research -- they could serve students without saddling them with massive debt, writes Richard Vedder, an emeritus economics professor at Ohio University.

College officials keep raising tuition, enabled by federal student loans, then spend the money "on programs and activities with little or no educational value," writes Vedder.

Eastern Michigan University spends more than $1,000 per student on sports.

In the 1970s, Ohio University employed two faculty members for every non-teaching/non-research staffer, Vedder writes. Today, administrators outnumber faculty -- and inflation-adjusted tuition costs have more than tripled. "Students are paying to finance an army of apparatchiks who neither teach nor expand the frontiers of knowledge."

He especially objects to "diversity, equity and inclusion" bureaucrats who "reduce freedom of campus expression that is the heart of the intellectually examined life."

Research is a legitimate university function, but much of it is a pointless waste of resources, Vedder writes. Professors teach less to produce journal articles nobody will read. It would make more sense "to expect all faculty members to carry a full teaching load but to reduce it if outside parties want their research badly enough to buy their time."

College sports is a money loser at most universities, writes Vedder. There's no reason "ball-throwing, batting, and kicking contests" have to be affiliated with an academic institution. For example, Eastern Michigan University "loses well over $20 million annually" on sports, more than $1,000 a year per student, he writes. Why should EMU's many lower-income students pay for mediocre sports teams?

Via Robert Pondiscio, I noticed a CNBC story on debtors reacting to student loan forgiveness.

Biden’s plan will cut monthly payments for a married IT manager at a nonprofit, who plans to use the savings to furnish her new condo and pay down the mortgage. The story includes a photo of her on "a recent trip to Paris."

Another debtor borrowed $100,000 for master’s degree in public relations at USC. He thinks it's raised his pay, but . . . My dad did public relations. It's not rocket science.

And that's chicken feed compared to the first-generation student who will owe $250,000 for a master's and PhD in urban planning and environmental policy.

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