Saturday, September 08, 2012

More on the higher education bubble

Almost five years ago I wrote a post about the exploding cost of higher education.  For decades the cost of going to college has climbed two to three times faster than inflation.  When the cost was relatively low as a fraction of an average yearly salary it made sense to send children to college.  Now that it has become sometimes two to three times how much a parent makes in a year it no longer makes sense for some to go to college. 

Over the years I've written several posts about what Instapundit calls the Higher Education Bubble.  He has even written a book about this problem called appropriately The Higher Education Bubble.

Recently my mother sent a link to the family on University 2.0 — Revolution in Education.  It is a good summary of how online education will help make higher education more affordable.  The post starts with:

Two major announcements in the last month showed online higher education moving decisively beyond for-profit institutions such as the University of Phoenix, Kaplan, Walden, and DeVry.

Some of the U.S.'s most prestigious, established universities are making aggressive inroads into the field of online education. The recent announcements were preceded about a decade ago when University of California Berkeley, Yale, and MIT began to offer free internet access to videos of their courses to the public. Video footage of classes received some acknowledgment for providing excellent knowledge from top universities for free, even though they offered no grade or certification of completion. However, in the last month a new company, Coursera, was launched. Coursera will be partnering with some top universities -- Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford (the home of the two professors at the helm of the startup), and the University of Michigan (the only non-Private University in this group) -- to provide free online courses.

Then, just last week, Harvard joined MIT in announcing their new joint e-learning platform, edX. Both online learning platforms go far beyond the simplicity of video lectures, and incorporate a variety of interactive learning tools. The entrance of such storied institutions has the potential to radically reshape the landscape of higher education worldwide.

With these universities typically admitting only about one applicant in fifteen -- and with those lucky few staring down a four-year bill of $200,000 or more -- such moves by the two universities raise a number of questions. Since the online courses will be free, what's their strategy?

Online education will be part of the process, maybe the main influence, which makes higher education more affordable and pops the higher education bubble.

No comments: