Higher Education: Resources and Finance

By Seymour E. Harris | Go to book overview

Incidentally, on the basis of material published in the 1960 NMSC report, I find that scholars from the 10 poorest states ( 1957 per capita income) rose by 60 per cent from 1956 to 1960, and by 92 per cent in the 10 richest states. Hence, whatever the theory, the trends do not support the view of increasing attention to the poor states--part of the difference is explained by greater population gains of rich states.


RESTRICTIONS ON FREE CHOICE

Two other programs raise related problems. The National Defense Education Act (NDEA) fellowships are distributed with a view to getting wider representation of institutions for graduate work. Here the net result is that on the whole students are weaned away from the best graduate schools by the offer of generous fellowships by the government if the student elects to go to an institution which offers the NDEA fellowships. Here note that, just as a general program with free choice of student and fees tied to costs favors the prestige IHL, a public program that ties the stipend to the institution operates against the interests of the leading IHL. But there is a strong point to be made for the NDEA program. We need more capacity for turning out good Ph.Ds.

Under the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship program, a student receives a fellowship on the assumption that he is seriously thinking of teaching. He may choose his college--but not the college of his undergraduate study. By limiting the number of fellows that any one IHL can accept (at this time Harvard alone), the foundation has deprived students of their first choice, and the better institutions of providing the best instruction for the best students.15

Here is what Dean Peter Elder of Harvard said:

1) . . . To see to it that a sizable number of men are not prevented from going where they wish (if they can get admitted). To turn the coin around, any scholarship program which more or less forces (however tactfully) a first-class man to go to a place to study which, however generally good it may be, is not as good in that particular field as the place of the student's first choice is likely to do two serious harms. First, to the student, for he will not be as well educated as he might. Second, to the whole system of higher education, since without many of the ablest students present, institutions may find their special pinnacles of excellence being dulled down to meet a lower level. Each would be a national loss.


CONCLUSION

Many have been struck by the increased enrollment of able students in the prestige institutions. Their large command of scholarship resources, the increasingly effective use of these funds (e.g., through the College

-185-

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