by James A. Bacon
Based on informal observations of public colleges and universities in Virginia for many years, I have often lamented “mission leakage” as a factor driving the cost of college attendance ever higher. But I never explored the idea systematically. Fortunately, a new study has done this job for me.
In “High price: what college costs in the United States, “Neetu Arnold, associate researcher with the National Association of Scholars, explores the factors, many of which have never been identified to me before, responsible for the crisis in affordability of graduate studies. An important section of his study identifies the increased costs unrelated to education.
“Modern American colleges and universities no longer think education alone is justifying their existence,” writes Arnold, who based his study on data from 50 major American universities, including the University of Virginia and George University. Mason. “They are increasingly diverting their attention and spending to non-teaching activities – and away from their main teaching mission.”
Arnold lists many sources of non-educational spending.
Federal accreditation and regulation. “The current college accreditation system is a quagmire of regulations, bureaucracies, and confusing reporting mechanisms that colleges must follow each year,” writes Arnold. “Bureaucratic practices involve federal and state regulatory agencies and quasi-government organizations. “
Accreditation agencies get their authority from the Ministry of Education. Colleges and universities pass the accreditation test because they have to to receive federal funds such as research grants, student loans, and Pell grants. The costs of accreditation, data reporting mandates, and compliance with other state and federal regulations add up. At UVa, for example, a senior analyst for academic compliance is paid $ 80,000.
Consumer demands. Operating as businesses seeking to maximize their income, colleges and universities respond to student demands for a luxurious experience. Arnold describes the phenomenon called “Club Ed”:
University campus restaurants … have gotten better over the past few generations – social centers, filled with eclectic decor, bright colors, and tasty food, rather than vendors of labeled Australian frozen beef cubes and ice cream. by color rather than flavor. Dining rooms now feature cuisine from around the world, with menu options that appeal to all types of food preferences – keto, vegan, and more. In some schools, such as Cornell, students can watch chefs prepare meals in front of their eyes. … Counseling rates at 4-year universities increased by 60% between 1986-2018.
Colleges also spend on dormitories and equipment to entertain students. Temple University offers a flat-screen TV in every room. The State of Louisiana offers students a “lazy river”. Universities hire administrators not only to oversee stuffed meal and sleep experiences, but to act as “the cruise director equivalent” for discerning undergraduates.
Services for snowflakes. “Millennials and Gen Z students include mental health care at the top of their list of expected white glove services as American teens have increasing rates of anxiety, depression and suicide,” writes Arnold.
Universities spend on luxuries to appease and appease mentally unstable students – and those luxuries include the careful smothering of all disturbing ideas. Investments by universities in political activism and welfare propaganda are not just ideological commitments; they are also means of meeting the needs of a student population which is too predominantly made up of beneficiaries and mentally retarded persons, who, confusing comfort and security, want universities to restrict the information they receive and the opinions they hear. Universities are therefore investing not only in additional dormitories, varied kitchens and luxury amenities, but also in the full range of “multicultural services”. When administrators distribute letters that recognize the importance of diversity or any other progressive ideology, or make statements about so-called “hate crimes” without waiting for the results of the investigation, the purpose is purportedly therapeutic. It is significant that political activists themselves are calling for “diverse” therapy as a right.
The emphasis placed by college administrators on “fairness” also sublimates the ethics of the participation trophy. Each student must have a university experience “equal” to that of his peers, until he receives the donut of his choice, otherwise he will be upset. Universities must respond to students consumed not only by the taste for luxury, but also by the envy of any peer whose luxury is more gold plated.
Classification systems. However, reluctantly, colleges and universities pay attention to US News and World Report and other grading systems, as grades are factored into the decision-making of prospective students and their families. Top 50 schools ‘strike the gold’, attracting a higher caliber of students…. which in turn influences the ranking. Arnold writes:
Universities are shifting their spending priorities to improve their place in the USNWR ranking system, even when these incentives discourage colleges from spending effectively. For example, the “Financial Resources” categories of the USNWR give universities a higher ranking for increased spending per student for teaching, public service, research, student services, institutional support and support. academic – without considering whether increasing student spending actually increases student outcomes. Indeed, the judges of the USNWR contributions rather than the exits, and therefore encourages colleges to indulge in unnecessary expense in order to play with the USNWR system.
Arnold mentions GMU as one of the few universities, along with Brigham Young University and George University, that are punished in the ranking because they operate more efficiently and spend fewer resources per student. Perversely, Arnold says, providing the same quality of academic education at lower costs punishes schools in their ranking.
Ideologies of the administrator. College administrators lean even more to the left than faculty members. While liberal professors are 5 times more numerous than conservatives, administrators are 12 to 1. Their tendency towards activism for social justice predisposes them to spend on progressive political priorities, especially those related to diversity, to equity and inclusion, which have no impact on academia. to live.
Globalism. Arnold describes “globalism” as a utopian and progressive ideology that promotes commitment to a liberal international community. “Projects include service-learning ventures such as study abroad programs, encouraging students from foreign countries to study in the United States through international education programs, and taking a direct position on political issues related to the promotion of globalism. Any attempt to pursue a national interest is by definition backward and reflects irrational prejudice, racism and / or xenophobia. “
Globalist idealism goes well with recruiting wealthy international students, who pay full tuition and out-of-state fees without reduction. However, much of the globalist rhetoric about learning about foreign cultures is a joke, argues Arnold. Foreign students invariably come from well-off families and have been westernized in international schools modeled on American education. “Globalism” consists of American elites interacting with foreign elites. As for American students who study abroad, they spend most of their time in classrooms learning about global theories rather than immersing themselves in the local culture. “Students study abroad to learn that American progressivism is true everywhere.”
Social justice. “Social justice activists have taken over much of the administration of higher education and have a hold over such offices as student affairs, freshman experience, community engagement, equity and inclusion, Title IX, sustainability and other miscellaneous offices, ”writes Arnold.
The direct waste of wages and expenses is considerable. Social justice activists divert spending from higher education to administrative centers of social activism and identity groups, promote separate events for different identity groups, apply racial and gender discrimination in admissions and staff, and forcing statements of “diversity” and “social justice” that restrict employment to the minority of Americans who share their views. … Social justice activism is also prompting colleges to lower admission standards in order to increase the number of students from favored identity groups. Colleges must then place large numbers of academically unprepared students into remedial classes – classes that now drain universities of vast sums of money that should be spent on rigorous undergraduate education. Each year, American universities spend more than a billion dollars on remedial education.
Durability. “Sustainability,” writes Arnold, “is a progressive ideology that combines environmental activism, social justice and anti-capitalism” to achieve its goals of environmental conservation through extreme measures disguised as science. This also serves as a justification for spending more on administration. “Colleges frequently dedicate new offices and departments just to study and promote sustainability – with all the attendant commitment to salaries and other expenses.” At the University of Virginia, for example, the director of the Office for Sustainability earns a salary of $ 145,000.
The list goes on. Universities spend resources to have local, national and international impact. Typically, this impact involves shaping the moral, social, and political beliefs of Americans through “public service” initiatives. Universities devote resources to innovation, entrepreneurship and technology transfer – goals that are separate from the main mission of teaching. They are devoting resources to marketing and public relations to recruit more students, exert influence and increase their income. The University of Florida, for example, employed 48 marketing and communications professions in 2010-11. And universities spend more on broader concepts of well-being and security, shielding students from “triggers” that cause “trauma” – such as political views that conflict with their own.