Is higher education a racket like Wall Street?

April 29, 2010 at 10:52 am 4 comments

This is a real concern.  I once heard a legislative aid say, “After we clean up health care, we’re going to clean up higher ed.”  We’d best be able to defend ourselves.

On Wednesday, in a speech to state regulators who oversee for-profit colleges, the chief architect of the Education Department’s strategy, Robert Shireman, offered a much more critical assessment of the private sector institutions than he has in his public comments to date, according to accounts given by several people who were in the room. He compared the institutions repeatedly to the Wall Street firms whose behavior led to the financial meltdown and called them out individually, one by one, for the vast and quickly increasing sums of federal student aid money they are drawing down.

via News: Comparing Higher Ed to Wall Street – Inside Higher Ed.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alfred Thompson  |  April 29, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Is he talking about all private institutions or just the fo-profit ones? Some of the for-profit ones are a little lacking in the “providing a good education for the money” department. Though of course there are some fine ones out there I’m sure.
    Not for-profit educational institutions seem pretty generally to have defensible value.

    In general I think that much more investment is needed in education at all levels. The answer to reducing the amount of public money that goes to private universities is increasing the amount of money that goes to public institutions. As the gap between public and private tuition gets even smaller (it seem to be getting narrower in some areas) there is more incentive to attend public institutions. This would also likely increase the quality of those public institutions.So in the more value for the dollar government should be stepping up investment in public institutions but it seems like the reverse is happening.

    • 2. Mark Guzdial  |  April 30, 2010 at 8:09 am

      The next line in the article, after what I quoted, is: “While Shireman’s comments were aimed most directly at the for-profit colleges themselves, they may be most noteworthy for his indictment of accreditation, higher education’s system of institutional peer review.”

  • 3. Alan Kay  |  April 30, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    The author of the article missed the chance to point to the wonderful but forcibly removed LSU professor who was trying to hold her students to a real standard — but got zapped — I’m presuming not just because of complaints, but because the university is bending over backwards to maintain retention so it can get the maximum income from both students, the state, and the federal government.

    Sad, if true.



  • 4. weilunion  |  May 1, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Olease see my four part, undercover article on the for-profit universities and collegs at

    It is called: The Impropriety of it all: Neo-liberalsim and the for-profit college


    Danny Weil


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