Friday, September 5, 2014

Easing Standards for More Revenue




By Professor Doom

     As the immense corruption of higher education grows, it gets ever more crass, to the point that the rulers of higher education no longer make any pretense of their corruption (say, does that remind you of any current government?).

     Anyway, the title of a recent article demonstrates just how little effort is put into maintaining the charade any more:


     It’s a harmless enough title, but on the face of it, it’s a little confusing. They can’t really think they’re easing standards to attract better students, right? No, the purpose of easing standards is MOAR. The weird thing is, those “foreign students” are often pretty darn good, I know I’m happy to see lots of foreign names on my class roster.

     I know, that sounds a little reverse-racist, but it’s just common sense, really. The kind of student willing to travel 10,000 miles to get an education is just more likely to be the kind of student willing to study and work. 

     Of course, the school isn’t lowering standards to attract better students because they deserve higher education, and the article makes it perfectly clear in the very first line:
“Canadian school boards and universities are relaxing admission criteria for international students, a measure aimed at bringing in much-needed new revenue.”

     So, it’s not about attracting students, it’s about the money. Gee whiz, American institutions have been lowering standards for years, explicitly so more money can be raked in. Despite what institutions say about their mission of education and research, bottom line, it’s the bottom line, and everything else is sacrificed for more money.

     Thing is, when you lower standards, you subtract value from all the graduates from that institution. What have the graduates done to deserve being treated like this?

     That may sound a bit melodramatic, but I promise you no administrator gives a damn about the graduates—administrators roam between institutions, and so seldom feel any particular loyalty to the institutions they’re plundering. Of course. It’s not like graduates are a source of revenue, after all...they've already paid all they can.

     But, wait a minute. Seeing as you can get a tuition free college education, one kind of wonders why more revenue is needed. Oh yeah, you’ve got to pay off those legions of highly paid administrators

Internationally, Canada’s main rivals in the battle for foreign students’ are the United States, the U.K. and Australia.

     Unfortunately, Canada is blowing it. See, the United States attracted those foreign students in the first place by having an excellent system of higher education.  I don’t believe the US is losing those students right now, but with US standards in free fall at many institutions, we’ve got way too much of a head start in the race to the bottom. I just don’t see Canada catching up. I mean, much of our “higher education” resources goes into teaching 6th grade material, and we have plenty of courses at the 3rd grade level. I know underestimating human intelligence seldom leads to disappointment, but I just don’t believe Canadian institutions of higher education are going to get far promising the “best 1st and 2nd grade education we can get away with charging for.”

     Australia, I’m told, is even worse.

     Again, the problem with administrators is they’re not capable of thinking at this level. All they want is growth, and they want it NOW. A typical administrator only serves a few years at an institution. If the administrator gets growth (by any means possible, no matter how illicit) then promotions, and transfers up the system, are in the cards. No growth? Firing, and good luck getting hired anywhere else. So, admin comes in, looks for what can be sacrificed in the name of further growth, and sacrifices it. There is no long term planning.

     If college administrators worked at coffee shops, they’d just take the customer’s money, and not give any coffee. “I’ve improved the profit margin!” they’d say. That the cheated customers never come back just isn’t an issue, any more than the lack of education that college graduates have now isn’t an issue.
 
      So, trying to explain to Canadian administrators that reducing standards to promote growth has already been “mined out” by American administrators isn’t going to do any good. A better plan would be to keep standards, and thus stand that much taller when the American higher education bubble finally pops…but that’s not a plan that might generate growth as fast as possible. No, instead, administration will do it all backwards:
 
“We’re, in a way, competing with each other for top-quality students,” he said.
 --administrator quoted in the article

     Hey, anyone else remember that the plan here is to reduce standards? Administration, apparently, has already forgotten. You don’t attract top students by reducing standards. Duh. That’s the thing about administration, as soon as they hear “this will increase growth” all forms of sanity and common sense vanish, destroying whatever limited thinking skills they may have.

“One year of tuition for a foreign student can be as high as $13,000, with total revenues from this source for the Vancouver School Board expected to reach $20-million in the upcoming academic year.”



     It’s really amazing to read this article. Not once, not in any way, do they mention how the new plan will help with education, or research. It’s all about the money. Don’t get me wrong, I understand money is important, but it’s funny how these institutions of higher education won’t even consider improving education, unless, you know, it’ll improve the cash flow into their own pockets first.
 
     I concede that, initially, the standards being lowered here are only the language skills. This is still puzzling, as the taxpayers supporting these schools probably weren’t told “we’re going to tax you to raise money to attract people that don’t even speak your language to come here and pay money to cover our ridiculously high administrative salaries.” Instead, they were told “these taxes will bring higher education to your city.”
 
     This is very similar to what’s going on in the United States. The plan is to tax people, to pay for institutions that exist simply to raise money so they can grow and support more administrators with ideas for further growth which will allow for more administrators ad infinitum. Sooner or later, the taxpayers have to wonder why they’re paying taxes to send their kids to schools where they get ridiculously deep into debt learning nothing at all on campuses the size of small towns.

“…about half the international students plagiarize their work…”
--from the comments section. Perhaps I’ve been a little generous of my praise for foreign students. Canada wants to just get rid of the standards for demonstrating the students know English. If they don’t know English, how are they supposed to write papers in English? I strongly recommend the interested reader to view the comments section, to see what non-administrators think of this clever new idea to enhance education.
 
   
    It’s very clear lowering standards will do nothing for education or research. But maybe if the schools just lower standards some more, that will help the taxpayers, somehow...