By Thomas K. Lindsay
In an interview last week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker fired a shot across the bow of academe. Defending his proposal to cut $300 million over the next two years from the University of Wisconsin (UW) System, Walker opined, “Maybe it’s time for faculty and staff to start thinking about teaching more classes and doing more work.” His proposal aims not only to make the UW System “more effective, more efficient,” but also brings to light the little-discussed scandal of poor collegiate learning.
Although his budget-cutting is unlikely to receive an enthusiastic response from universities, a “more efficient”—and thereby less-costly—higher education system would be met with great applause by the students, their parents, and the taxpayers who help fund public higher education, as evidenced by a Pew Research Center national study, which finds that 57 percent of prospective students believe a college education today costs more than it is worth. Worse, 75 percent of those surveyed believe that college today is simply unaffordable. Their apprehension is understandable. Nationwide, college tuitions have increased 440 percent over the past quarter-century—far outpacing both general inflation and even health-care cost increases over the same period. Attempting to keep pace with tuition hyperinflation, students and their parents are yoking themselves to an historic level of student-loan debt, which, at $1.2 trillion, for the first time in history exceeds total national credit-card debt. CONTINUE READING HERE