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    #76
    Originally posted by Hot Pepsi View Post

    There are lots of reasons, actually. It’s unfortunate, but it’s not all “fat.”
    There's no reason for the cost of higher education to outstrip inflation by a factor of ~300% the last few decades, especially given advances in technology.

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      #77
      There are lots of reasons. That’s why it’s happened.

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        #78
        Yeah, those massive football stadia don't just build themselves, do they?

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          #79
          That old canard... Sigh.

          The overall facilities arms race is a factor, but the money for big sports projects - especially the really big ones you read about and see on tv - almost always comes from the *sports themselves* and rich donors. Student fees help pay for sports at a lot of places - and that is very dumb - but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what students pay in tuition. That is not what is driving up costs.

          Costs are also driven by administration - much of which is driven by regulation - and old fashioned market forces. They charge that much because they can find people to pay it. Even at high prices, there are still generally good financial reasons to get a degree, because not having one is increasingly a real hindrance in the job market.

          And our system is set-up as a cutthroat competition between universities for the best students and the market is set by very wealthy universities, wealthy donors, and, to some extent, the few wealthy families who actually pay the full sticker price for their degree.

          There is not much incentive for any remotely prestigious university to dramatically lower prices and lower costs. All of their market incentives are to raise as much money as they can from every source they can and to spend it on facilities that students like and faculty that will bring in grants and prestige.

          This is a pretty good piece on it and it quotes one of our own! (AG can also explain why making college free, at least in Canada, is actually regressive).

          https://www.theatlantic.com/educatio...merica/569884/
          Last edited by Hot Pepsi; 13-06-2019, 00:43.

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            #80
            You've pretty much made my point there HP, "market forces" have had an insidious effect on US higher ed and need to be reigned in and regulated. I'm not for free college, I'm for 1980s levels of tuiton, which is what we have here in Canada (well except in Quebec where it's 1960s levels).

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              #81
              Originally posted by linus View Post
              You've pretty much made my point there HP, "market forces" have had an insidious effect on US higher ed and need to be reigned in and regulated. I'm not for free college, I'm for 1980s levels of tuiton, which is what we have here in Canada (well except in Quebec where it's 1960s levels).
              Market forces =\= “no reason” =\= “fat.”

              The biggest expense is on the highly educated people it takes to teach and run the place and those people wouldn’t work there if you just arbitrarily decided to cap costs at 1980s levels. Well, some would - there seem to be an endless supply of teachers willing to work for peanuts as adjuncts - but a lot would be lost. The rich and the extremely gifted would still get the kind of education experience they’re getting now, but everyone else would fall even further behind. If public education can’t take at least some of the edge off inequality, there’s not much point in having it.

              Last edited by Hot Pepsi; 13-06-2019, 03:15.

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                #82
                The salaries in US higher education are insane. I know a state university in the US where assistant professor (the bottom of the permanent faculty ladder) salary starts at $100k, with $300k not being unusual for professor. And the department's website is soliciting donations on every second webpage. Sorry guys, I can think of better charities.

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                  #83
                  Those figures are quite a ways off the median, and fail to reflect the increasingly massive number of "faculty" working as adjuncts for derisory sums.

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                    #84
                    That's exactly the problem though. There are people earning huge salaries and others who aren't. And the ones who aren't are doing the thankless work.

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                      #85
                      That point is better made by looking at administrative salaries.

                      Public institutions

                      Privates

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                        #86
                        Yeah, that's not remotely typical for faculty. The numbers UA posted are, of course, more accurate. And keep in mind that it's incredibly difficult to get one of those jobs. PhD students are not, for the most part, unionized and more and more faculty are not tenured track and those jobs suck (and yet they still have no trouble filling them). That's a whole other topic.

                        I don't even know if the list of president salaries really makes the point. It's the cost of all the administrators and staff that adds up. And it's not just - or even primarily, perhaps - about how much each one gets paid but how many their are.

                        There are questions to be asked about the relationships between boards and presidents and whether and why it costs that much to get somebody to do the job effectively - assuming that it really does - but the presidents could take no salary and it wouldn't make much of a dent in the overall budgets. These are enormous enterprises. The president of Penn State, for example, makes about $1m annually, but the whole university has about 100,000 students and about a $50bn budget.

                        Those salaries are probably excessive - especially for some of those schools which I suspect can't afford it - but if it didn't at least pay fairly well, nobody would want to do it. At least traditionally, presidents and deans started out as top academics, doing their research and teaching and probably seeing their kids sometimes. Now they have a 24-hour-a-day job trying to please a whole lot of competing groups who will never ever be happy - students, faculty, politicians, townies, the board, and donors. But mostly donors. The president may cut ribbons for new student health centers and do photo-ops on Pride Month and interviews on technology transfer and all that, but really their job is to raise money. Which is why the president of big universities seem to care so much about football. Because donors do.


                        If certain states or universities cap expenditures and costs, they'll just lose faculty and students to the places that have more money, including money for bullshit like lazy rivers and squash teams. But if we let the federal government cap expenditures and costs to level the playing field, our higher education system would be a disaster. I know that isn't true in other countries, and it shouldn't be here, but I'm pretty sure that's what would/will happen in the US. Look at how underfunded and neglected the public schools are in so many major - even wealthy - cities. The whole raison d'etre of the ruling class in this country is to starve the public sector and then use that as evidence that privatization of everything is the only choice.

                        We're just screwed.

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                          #87
                          Very much so.

                          I wanted to post some data on total administrative spend, but couldn't find data easily.

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                            #88
                            And yet whenever I talk to the people who have all those jobs about their jobs it always sounds reasonable and useful. That's how mission creep happens, I guess.

                            As that Atlantic article brings up, universities in the US do a lot more for students than universities in other countries. Or, at least, they're expected to. But students in other countries also have places to live, eat, get health care (including mental health care), and work out and play sports at various levels of seriousness, and all that. And the money from that comes from somewhere, either from the students' families or the public sector or both. So it's not apples-to-apples to just compare the price of being a student if what you get for that price isn't the same.

                            The piece also mentions that students are more likely to live at home (presumably, with their parents) while attending university in other countries. That used to be a lot more common in the US, I think, but now that's regarded as not giving students the proper "college experience." Do parents/students in other countries worry about getting the proper "college experience?" Is that something we should care about? Are people who don't get to do that at any kind of important disadvantage later in life?

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                              #89
                              Originally posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
                              Do parents/students in other countries worry about getting the proper "college experience?"
                              My experience is that this concept is virtually unknown in Europe outside of parents who have attended Oxbridge (or some Russell Group unis) and/or have significant experience with the US system (or many US peers)

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                                #90
                                It depends what you mean by "college experience". In Britain it seemed that getting away from family, living independently without having to worry unduly about jobs and responsibilities, getting inappropriately drunk, and so on, were the college experience that was sought - a halfway house to adulthood. But the quality of *things* at US colleges far exceeds that at European ones, and often seems to be a major part of the pitch and has therefore become part of the cost: the quality of the sports facilities, the quality of the dorms, of the dining experiences, of all the infrastructure, at a good-but-not-great US university is far higher than you'd get at any UK university that's not Oxbridge (and, arguably, better than Oxbridge).

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                                  #91
                                  I would describe German attitudes as close to that, at least for kids who go to university (the non-uni options being more attractive there). Even at the best unis in Italy, living at home is completely normal (as it increasingly is for unmarried Italians into their 30s).

                                  When doing this comparison, it is important to keep in mind the percentage of the "college age" population that actually goes to "college" (significantly higher in the US).

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                                    #92
                                    Originally posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
                                    bullshit like ... squash teams.
                                    Oi! One can go off a person, you know...

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                                      #93
                                      Originally posted by ursus arctos View Post
                                      I would describe German attitudes as close to that, at least for kids who go to university (the non-uni options being more attractive there). Even at the best unis in Italy, living at home is completely normal (as it increasingly is for unmarried Italians into their 30s).
                                      Ditto Spain.

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                                        #94
                                        "It depends what you mean by "college experience". In Britain it seemed that getting away from family, living independently without having to worry unduly about jobs and responsibilities, getting inappropriately drunk, and so on, were the college experience that was sought - a halfway house to adulthood."

                                        Those are all part of the "college experience" here too.

                                        "But the quality of *things* at US colleges far exceeds that at European ones, and often seems to be a major part of the pitch and has therefore become part of the cost: the quality of the sports facilities, the quality of the dorms, of the dining experiences, of all the infrastructure, at a good-but-not-great US university is far higher than you'd get at any UK university that's not Oxbridge (and, arguably, better than Oxbridge)."

                                        Yeah, that's all about competition for students (and faculty and staff too, I suppose. Everything else being equal, people like to work in nicer buildings with nicer grounds). As AG has said, college is as much a "consumer good" as much as an investment that pays off later. I feel unimaginably fortunate to have had the chance to "consume" that.

                                        What I recall from looking at colleges is that there are a ton of small liberal arts colleges - really, the US is just lousy with them - and they all seemed to cost about the same, and yet some have *much* better facilities than others. The ones with the better facilities are, not surprisingly, more prestigious and harder to get into. But looking at a lot of them, it just felt like "eh, if it comes down to it, I'd rather just go to Penn State and pay way less, put up with larger classes but have more choices." But there are still a lot of students who go into big debt just to go to a small college rather than a big university.

                                        That doesn't seem to be a thing outside the US. I've noticed that the most well-regarded universities in other countries - maybe all universities - are just a lot bigger than their comparable institutions here. Like McGill and UToronto or U of Sydney are more like the size of a flagship state university here than an Ivy League. And, therefore maybe they're a bit less impossible to get into? Not sure. It's been said that the Ivy League schools are "overcapitalized." That may be true. It certainly feels that way on their campuses.

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                                          #95
                                          Originally posted by Janik View Post
                                          Oi! One can go off a person, you know...
                                          That was a specific reference. A few years back, there was an article about how George Washington University added squash to its athletic department because, in the US, it's played almost exclusively at the Ivy League, the "little ivies" (or whatever Williams and Amherst and Trinity are part of) and exclusive eastern boarding schools. They wanted to add that cachet to GW.

                                          I have nothing against squash as a sport, but I don't see why the entire student body should subsidize the building and maintenance of squash courts, the salary of coaches, and maybe even scholarships for players in a sport that nobody except the players care about whatsoever.

                                          I'm increasingly ambivalent - maybe headed toward hostility - about college sports. That's tough because they are one of the only entertainment options in my town and an important ice-breaking topic of conversation that I've always relied on to get over my social anxiety. But I'm looking at the $460 bill to renew my hockey ticket for next year and am not sure I'm going to do it, which, if you've known me for a long time, is remarkable. I used to love it so much.

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                                            #96
                                            Making sure my uni was far enough from my hometown to be eligible for Halls was a major part in me choosing where I'd study.

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                                              #97
                                              How big are the Ivy League institutions?

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                                                #98
                                                In terms of undergraduates, they range from about 4400 (Dartmouth) to 10,900 (Cornell).

                                                Princeton is 5400, Yale 5750 and Harvard 6750

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                                                  #99
                                                  For a comparison, the two biggest universities in San Diego, UCSD and SDSU, have around 30,000 undergrads each, which is fairly normal for major US universities.

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                                                    I'm really surprised how tiny Yale and Harvard are. That's even smaller than St Andrews.

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