'The College Bubble'
Megan McArdle's article (Sept. 17) highlights many of the drawbacks to higher education today. A good percentage of students are not prepared for college and are only there for the credentials. Yet McArdle misses the critical fact that most tuition increases over the past decade are directly related to decreases in state funding for higher education. Tuition for state colleges and universities is largely subsidized by state governments. In 2000 tuition accounted for approximately 33 percent of the total cost of a college education, whereas today tuition dollars account for more than 50 percent of the cost of higher education. In other words, as state support for higher education declines, students are faced with higher tuition to cover the costs.
Ryan Schroeder, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Louisville, Louisville, Ky.
I agree with Megan McArdle's cover story, but I notice she offered no solutions. Here are a few of my own. First we need to address the proliferation of overpaid administrators, who have become a permanent class of bureaucrats. There needs to be a term limit of five years for department heads and presidents, after which they must return to the classroom, or else they become too detached from the realities of their schools. They should receive no more than 25 percent higher salaries than faculty, as was the case back in the early 1980s. Secondly, schools must be foremost about education and not socializing. Depending on their educational background, students should be able to obtain their Bachelors of Arts in two or three years. Sports as big business should be left to the professionals, and academics should be the focus of our universities. Unless we make some drastic changes, our current system will be unable to meet the needs of students and society.
Winberg Chai, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyo. …