Saturday, August 13, 2011

Remediation and Tuition

Baumol's cost disease means college tuition can't help but rise faster than the rate of inflation. As Daniel Luzer addresses the idea that remedial instruction is also a huge factor:
"Universities still don’t have to provide remedial assistance. Blaming administrative costs on the need for remediation is misleading, suggesting as it does that the growth in such costs is valid. In fact, there’s no reason administrators have to manage such 'help,' and there’s no indication they’re doing it well.

"And let’s not talk about how remediation wasn’t necessary years ago. If students aren’t prepared for college, just don’t admit them. It’s very troublesome to suggest that somehow because high school students aren’t ready for higher education colleges will just let them in anyway and then bill all students for the costs of remediation. It’s the college’s fault they don’t run remediation programs efficiently; there’s no reason to pass the costs of that wastefulness on to students."

As long as there is pressure on universities to grow, they will have to admit increasingly unprepared students. As long as universities offer tutoring centers, such students will increase the demand on them. In addition, admitting people and then placing them in a position where failure is likely, as would happen if their basic skills problems went completely unmet, is simply not ethical. In Pennsylvania, I actually think Tom Corbett is onto something when he thinks too many students attend four-year colleges and universities, not because of the job situation, but because so many students who show up in my classes would clearly benefit from a year or two of community college instruction. Unfortunately, he hasn't provided the leadership that would result in public universities starting to shrink, which as I understand it would require changing various incentives built into the system by government officials promoting the system's growth.



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