How much does undergraduate education really cost?

June 24, 2010 at 10:57 am 6 comments

Interesting analysis suggesting that undergraduate education actually costs much less than undergraduates and the state are charged, so increasing enrollment would actually buoy up university’s bottomlines.  Now that might not actually work, because much of what universities actually pay for has little to do with education:

If public universities are really committed to promoting access, affordability, and quality, they should consider increasing their funding by accepting more undergraduate students instead of raising tuition and restricting enrollments. While many would argue that higher education institutions are already unable to deal with the students they currently enroll, in reality, it costs most public research universities very little to educate each additional student, and the main reason why institutions claim that they do not get enough money from state funds and student dollars is that they make the students and the state pay for activities that are not directly related to instruction and research….

This means that most of the money coming from undergraduate students and the state is used to pay for sponsored research, graduate education, administration, and extracurricular activities. Furthermore, the main reason why the cost for instruction is so low is that research universities rely on large classes and inexpensive non-tenured faculty and graduate students to teach most of their undergraduate courses. However, my point is not that states or students shouldn’t support the full range of activities that universities pursue; rather, I am arguing that the best way to make up for the loss of state funding is to enroll more students.

via Views: The Solution They Won’t Try – Inside Higher Ed.

Contrast this with this interview with University of Georgia’s president:

Q: UGA recently accepted another freshman class. How much do you hear from parents of rejected students who say my son or daughter grew up wanting to go to Athens?

A: I hear it a lot. You especially don’t want to be me in April. Unfortunately, we turned down about 12,000 Georgia students this year. But we’ve stretched about as much as we can stretch. In my 13 years here, we’ve grown the freshman class from about 3,800 to roughly 5,000. We’re much larger now than Chapel Hill [University of North Carolina]. We’re much larger than Virginia. We think we have just about optimized the number of students that we can serve.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. weilunion  |  June 24, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    It costs a life of debt peonage. I just finisned an article on law school costs. You cna see it at http://www.dailycensored.com. Also, go to dissidentvoice.ort and find the article “The Impropriet of it All” an article where I pose as an undergraduate to for-profit colleges and the four parter allows readerrs to see the massive corruiton, the business plan based on exploitation and the defaulted laons you will paiy for– over 60% of students rae under water.

    Go to Danny Weil at the home page post, find my article and then you will find it.

    Best

    Danny Weil

    Reply
  • 2. Alfred Thompson  |  June 24, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    At the risk of getting beaten on a bit, I sometimes wonder if R1 research universities are worth the money for undergraduate education. Graduate education? Sure! Great professors, hands on learning, good funding, wonderful stuff. But for undergraduates there are large classes, adjunct and graduate students for instructors, and often one has to work to make ends meet. At a smaller school an undergraduate student gets to learn from tenured professors and work in small classes. Sometimes for a lot less money. Are professors better at R1 schools? Perhaps but not if you can’t work with them until you are a graduate student.
    Much of the question comes down to what is the purprose of the university. Luis von Ahn has had some recent posts that I think contribute to the conversation especially in the comments. (http://vonahn.blogspot.com/2010/06/outsourcing-my-research-group.html and http://vonahn.blogspot.com/2010/06/research-versus-teaching.html )

    Reply
  • 3. weilunion  |  June 24, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    sEE THE ARTICLE ‘tHE iMPROPRIET OF IT ALL’ AT http://WWW.DISSIDENT.VOCIE.ORG

    THERE, I POSE AS A PROSPECTIVE STUDENT AT FOR -ROFIT COLLEGES AND YOU WILL SEE IN THIS FOUR PARTER HOW THE FOR-PROFIT SCAM WORKS. FOR THIS GOES TO THE ISSUE OF THE COST OF UNDGERGRAD SCHOOLS.

    DEBT PEONAGE IS THE ISSUE NOW. TUITION INCREASE TO COVER THE COST OF TOXIC LOSSES AND CAPITAL CONSTRUCTION ORJECTS WILL ASSURE THE COST WILL RISE AS THE COST IS SHIFTED ON THE BACKS OF WORKERS AND STUDENTS — SOCIALIZING COSTS AND PRIVATIZING PROFITS,
    DANNY

    Reply
  • […] I just found Rich DeMillo’s fascinating response to my query of several weeks ago, “Why do Universities do research?”  Rich’s bottomline is “It doesn’t make economic sense.”  A massive […]

    Reply
  • 5. killian  |  November 16, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    back when i was in a public community college i asked the dean how much one credit hour actually cost. he said that “tuition” (what i was billed) only covered 30% and that the other 70% was paid by the taxpayers.

    is this stat still valid? how can we find out the modern numbers onsuch

    Reply
  • […] theme we’ve talked about before here: That tuition is subsidizing research.  But now it’s coming from the Chronicle which draws more […]

    Reply

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