Monday, August 13, 2007

Following the Money in Higher Ed

A story that's getting some attention in the New York Times today is about the payoffs that exist between study-abroad programs and colleges that often lead to students paying much more than they would if they just enrolled in foreign universities directly. Colleges put up barriers by refusing to allow transfer credits if you don't go with their preapproved programs. I know when i was at Yale a lot of people ended up not studying abroad, or taking a program without credits, because virtually the only programs approved were Yale's own China and London programs.

Here's the crux:

"Many of these perks are similar, if not identical, to ones uncovered in multiple investigations into the student loan industry, where lenders gave colleges bonuses tied to loan volume, seats on advisory boards and free travel to conferences in the race to get on so-called preferred lender lists. The similarities raise questions about how many aspects of higher education involve such little-known incentives that may have large impacts on the college experience."

Where are the ripoffs in higher education? How about textbooks, housing, makework academic requirements that make it difficult to graduate early, anemic online offerings, barriers to transferring credits between colleges and community colleges, overcrowded lectures taught by graduate students instead of professors?

UPDATE: a reader writes: "You could also add-allowing credit card companies on campus, affinity marketing by alumni associations, selling student consumer information to banks and other corporations."

1 comment:

David N. said...

The college I went to did this same thing--you could only get credit if the program was pre-approved or if you successfully petitioned beforehand to have a program approved. They even bragged about how such a system was the "(Name of my college) Model," a revolutionary system that other colleges admired and replicated. Now I see why, whenever a student needed to get in touch with the study abroad director, she was off on a (probably comped) "research" trip to a study abroad program location.