Ritchie introduces us to the costs of higher education in the United States. He starts with a true point, that the cost of such has been soaring vastly higher than more general inflation.
His explanation is amusing though:
Note that his post is titled \”The cost of privatising education\”.
They’re wrong, of course. The private sector is great – but the sad fact is that for the last thirty years it’s been largely bereft of really big ideas (even the internet started in the public sector) – and has in the main concentrated on catching public revenue for private gain.
The consequence has been inflation in the cost of many fundamentals, which moves such services beyond the reach of some – if not many – who would benefit from them. The following graph is indicative of this, showing inflation in the cost of a university education in the US from 1979 to 2010, with comparators:
So, umm, what actually is the structure of the US higher education system?
The American university and college system is highly decentralized with both public and privately operated institutions. Schools can be non-profit or for-profit. The US Department of Education estimates that close to 70% of all undergraduate students attend public institutions, which includes undergraduates at two-year, community colleges and four-year colleges and universities.
During the 2008-2009 academic year, there were nearly 1.8 million students enrolled at more than 2,800
for-profit institutions of higher learning in the United States. Students in for-profit colleges and universities
accounted for over 9% of all students enrolled in postsecondary education.
If we put those numbers together we have a system which is 70% run by the state (States, actually), 20% by non-profits and 10% (with rounding) by the vicious bastards out to make a pile in the for profit sector.
That such a system has higher than average inflation is of course a searing indictment of \”the privatisation of education\”.
I too find that to be an incredibly insightful conclusion.