Higher Ed is in for a World of Hurt

October 4, 2010

Last Friday the Department of Education Reform’s lecture series featured a great talk by Richard Arum, a sociologist from New York University.

He presented research from the forthcoming book, Academically Adrift, which he co-authored with Josipa Roksa.  I don’t want to scoop their findings, which will be released in the book and an accompanying report in January, so let me simply quote from the promotional material:

Almost everyone strives to go, but almost no one asks the fundamental question posed by Academically Adrift: are undergraduates really learning anything once they get there?

For a large proportion of students, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s answer to that question is a definitive no. Their extensive research draws on survey responses, transcript data, and, for the first time, the state-of-the-art Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test administered to students in their first semester and then again at the end of their second year. According to their analysis of more than 2,300 undergraduates at twenty-four institutions, 45 percent of these students demonstrate no significant improvement in a range of skills—including critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing—during their first two years of college. As troubling as their findings are, Arum and Roksa argue that for many faculty and administrators they will come as no surprise—instead, they are the expected result of a student body distracted by socializing or working and an institutional culture that puts undergraduate learning close to the bottom of the priority list.

Be sure to read this book and the supplemental report when it comes out because he presented some amazing and disturbing information on how students spend their time, what their courses require of them, how much they learn, and what happens after they graduate.  Let’s just say that the results don’t paint a pretty picture.

And we may want to ask again why universities are hiring all of those non-instructional professional staff and administrators.


Governor Daniels vs. Bloat

August 31, 2010

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

From the Indy Star:

Daniels cited a national study released a few weeks ago by the Goldwater Institute in Arizona. It found the number of full-time administrators for every 100 students at 189 top U.S. universities had increased by 39 percent from 1993 to 2007.

The study blamed the administrative bloat on subsidies from federal and state governments and suggested that reducing subsidies would force schools to operate more efficiently.

“The role of trustee has never been so critical as it is today,” Daniels said. “But I don’t want to see you at the Statehouse asking for more money.

“Please stay back at the school and find ways to be more efficient with those dollars.”


The Future vs. Bloat

August 25, 2010

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Brian Caulfield asks the question at Forbes: should Apple kill the university as we know it? Cites Jay, Brian and Jonathan’s bloat study.

Answer: yes. If they don’t, someone else will.


Even More Bloat!

August 23, 2010

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Yours truly weighs in on the bloat fest!