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Will Higher Education Be the Next Bubble to Burst?

Will Higher Education Be the Next Bubble to Burst? asks:

According to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, over the past 25 years, average college tuition and fees have risen by 440 percent — more than four times the rate of inflation and almost twice the rate of medical care. Patrick M. Callan, the center’s president, has warned that low-income students will find college unaffordable.

Laying aside the obvious point that education is already unaffordable for much of the work, this article explores challenges education faces in light of recent “bubble bursts”.

I’m interested in the new value point for higher education. The system currently serves three dominant roles: content/research, teaching/learning, and accreditation. Why don’t we split them up? We could serve each function better in this model. And less expensively. A large system that tries to do too much is incapable of adapting rapidly to changing external conditions.


  1. Matt Moore wrote:

    Break up higher education? No complaints here…

    Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 5:17 pm | Permalink
  2. Doug Holton wrote:

    That’s regurgitating what David Wiley suggested.

    But it has already been done – splitting up the content, learning support, and certification/accreditation. Look at the programming certifications. They’ve become less valuable because many folks just practice to the test. It’s teaching to the test at the extreme. I’m not saying throw it out either, but it doesn’t replace traditional education yet, and it’s not without its own new flaws and issues.

    Friday, May 29, 2009 at 6:42 pm | Permalink
  3. Virginia Yonkers wrote:

    Read the comment that Michael Payton made on my blog posting on diversity though. There is more to the “educational” aspects of higher ed these days than learning how to do things. Most people go to college to “make contacts” which is why there is an unprecedented number of on campus students. The bubble will burst when alternative learning methods (such as online learning) create a new way of developing personal networks and communities of learning. As more universities work on developing these online communities, the need for residents will decrease. However, the technology and personnel needed to maintain these communities are expensive, so I am not sold that university prices will decrease.

    Looking at the costs of education, large administrators at the top to taking a larger chunk out of the salaries paid (mirroring what happened in corporations). I haven’t seen the call to cap salaries of top administrators at the university level yet.

    Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 3:19 am | Permalink
  4. gsiemens wrote:

    Doug – not sure how to take your opening statement about “regurgitating” what David Wiley has said. I’ve been talking about breaking up these components of education for several years (see world without courses)…and have an article in peer review on the same subject.

    Could you link to David’s work/commentary on this subject?

    And, for what it’s worth, the integration of these three functions of HE is still somewhat recent. The traditional university focused on teaching. Research was added…then accreditation/evaluation (even in some large US universities, the research component was added only within the last century).

    Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 7:20 am | Permalink
  5. Michael j wrote:

    The short answer is yes. Education and health in the States will soon follow investment banking and value chain manufacturers inot the dustbin of history.

    The economies of the cloud based computing have not been passed through to the students. It’s not sustainable. And you know what people say about things that are unsustainable.

    I think printernet publishing and variable QR codes will soon emerge as Clickable print. As that happens, the value proposition of all but the very best universities, will start melting away.

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink