Is Higher Ed Doomed (Part II): The Cost of Higher Education Doesn't Add Up
Link to Part I)
Since 1983, college tuition increases have not only significantly outpaced the cost of living increases, but they have also outpaced the spiraling inflation in medical costs (Wikipedia.) Those involved in Higher Education admit that a major change is needed to address the financial factors crushing affordable education and are throwing around ideas like 'three-year' degrees (Inside Higher Ed article: A Call For Change, From Within,) but these changes seem to only be tweaks to the existing paradigm.
Finding a solution to the existing crisis will require stripping higher education down to the basics: The Professor teaching the Student. Consider a hypothetical scenario for an undergraduate degree program.
If a college student paid $250 to each of his or her professors per semester, and this student took five classes (3 credits per class) for 15 credits, then the total amount paid would be $1,250.
College Student - 5 classes @ $250/class = $1,250
Assuming the college professor was paid $250 from each student, and if she or he taught five classes per semester of 20 students per class she/he would earn $25,000 per semester.
College Professor - 5 classes of 20 students @ $250/student = $25,000
Assuming two semesters per year, that makes the annual cost to the student for tuition $2,500 and the total annual salary for the professor will be $50,000.
College Student - $1,250/semester x 2 = $2,500
College Professor - $25,000/semester x 2 = $50,000
Taking this one step further, let's assume the student pays someone (an 'Educational Coordinator') to create an individualized, college-degree program, select qualified professors for the desired degree, and coordinate the student's schedule with the professor's availability. For this service the student will pay the Educational Coordinator $150/class. Assuming five classes per semester and two semesters per year, the student will be paying $1,500 per year for his or her Educational Coordinator. Assuming the Educational Coordinator handles 50 students per year that gives them a salary of $75,000.Continued on the next page