Why are college costs rising so dramatically? Not because of football, fancy dorms or gourmet dining halls, says a new report from the American Enterprise Institute. The report says universities should cut costs by targeting research and unnecessary programs while increasing faculty productivity.
It's the latest look at how colleges and universities should reduce their expenses at a time when tuition and fees are on the rise, state funding for public higher education is seriously threatened and the cost of a college degree is increasingly burdensome for the average student.
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The paper from the institute's Future of American Education Project suggests that things like student housing and big-time athletics are a "red herring" and not a major cause of large tuition increases. Instead, the report says, colleges should focus on eliminating waste from their education budgets and focus more on teaching undergraduates.
To figure out where colleges can cut back, the report's author, Vance H. Fried, the Riata Professor of Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University and author of "Better/Cheaper College: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Rescuing the Undergraduate Education Industry," created a hypothetical university.
Although it was designed to offer a top-of-the-line, comprehensive undergraduate education, the made-up College of Entrepreneurial Leadership & Society ended up with an annual cost per student of $6,705, less than half that of the average public regional college, which costs $14,073. So, how does CELS save so much cash?
It gets rid of unpopular majors and the accompanying unpopular classes, which never fill up and therefore are expensive to offer. It increases class sizes in most cases while giving students the chance to take at least one "micro-class" of eight students or fewer each semester. It dramatically reduces the number of administrators.