By Julia Freeland Fisher
Over the course of her campaign, Hillary Clinton has floated a bevy of ideas to improve higher education in America, but one proposal has struck a real chord: free college.
Last month, Clinton announced a distinctly Bernie Sanders-esque proposal to eliminate tuition at in-state public colleges and universities for families with annual incomes up to $125,000. Although well-intentioned, the proposal risks focusing the nation’s higher education reform agenda on the wrong side of the affordability equation. Free college may allow more students to “afford” college, but it won’t actually make college more affordable — and that’s a hugely important distinction.
Rather than ratcheting up aid to meet ever-increasing price tags, we must get at the root of the affordability crisis by addressing the most fundamental component of any organization: the business model. Although a portion of mounting tuition rates can be attributed to decreases in state-based funding, a closer look at the traditional business model of higher education reveals a stockpile of embedded inefficiencies and warped incentives.
The largest problem, by far, is that the vast majority of higher education institutions pursue three distinct and often incongruous business models: producing research, providing instruction and preparing students for life and careers — all bundled together. As my colleagues Professor Clayton Christensen and Dr. Michelle Weise have noted, this results in a surge in overhead and direct labor costs with universities dramatically increasing their administrative capacities to cover these different and conflicting value propositions. CONTINUE READING HERE