Tuesday, March 13, 2018

How To Close A University?

By Professor Doom

     When the government shut down Corinthian, it was a complete disaster. Now, it wasn’t a disaster for the administration of Corinthian, they all got huge golden parachutes. It was an inconvenience for faculty, but they were all being paid starvation wages as adjuncts, so the loss of the minimal paychecks wasn’t so bad, and they just moved on to the next fake school.

     It was a disaster for the students. The students took out huge loans for this rip-off school, and are still on the hook for the loans, even though the school was shut down for fraud. Their course credits don’t even transfer, even though the school was accredited, but accreditation is itself a fraud and no longer has anything to do with education.

     It also was a disaster for the students who graduated from Corinthian in previous years: when your school is known to be so fraudulent that it’s one of the very few our government has shut down for fraud…it’s tough to tell an employer your degree is worth much.

     Even if a school isn’t shut down for fraud, it’s still a bad deal for the students when it closes. Between lost credit hours in transfer, and the sheer inconvenience of possibly having to move hundreds of miles to get into a comparable degree program…it’s a mess.

      “But Professor Doom, schools close so rarely that this isn’t a concern!” is a natural response but…I fear more schools will be closing soon, many more, and not just the small schools we’ve been losing a few of every year. We’re starting to see campuses now which are converged, controlled by Leftist Social Justice Warrior lunatics, and the first publicly noticeable side effect of convergence is the riots.

     A few riots won’t close a school, but people see the riots, and this alone tells the parents of prospective students: “there are violent and insane people here, send your kid to another school.” We’re already seeing this at schools like Missouri State, which closed 7 dorms because they’ve lost so many students.

     Even if the riots ever get under control, these schools are doomed. They’re on the record as saying they’re now dedicated to social justice, and indoctrinating everyone at the school into this ideology.

     Perhaps becoming devoted to ideology is a good thing but…our students are paying $100,000 or more to go the college now. For that kind of money, they’re entitled to get something of value. Ideology can be learned for free, and has no market value. Once again, someone looking into schools like this is going to come to the conclusion that going to another school is a better option.

      Now, when a school starts to die, it generally changes to try to survive. More marketing, putting in a climbing wall, or even improving their degree programs are all options, though sadly the latter is seldom on the table. Trouble is, a converged school can’t make these choices—ideology is so important, paramount to everything else, that nothing else matters. Even if they engage in a massive marketing program, the simple fact is they’ll destroy themselves with marketing, as they’ll simply publicize how dedicated they are to the ideology…scaring away even more prospective students.

      The only solution for converged schools is bulldozers. It might not be next year, but it’s inevitable, and some of these schools are quite large. At some point, a university with tens of thousands of students and graduates will find itself shutting its doors for reasons which don’t involve pure fraud.

     Now what?

     I find myself often looking to the UK for ideas and insights regarding US higher education. The Federal student loan scam, with all the strings attached, have made many American institutions nearly cookie-cutter copies of each other. While in many ways the UK is adopting our very corrupted system, they’re still their own system enough that there’s hope of some new, legitimate, ideas coming from “across the pond.” Our higher education system is drowning in a bloated bureaucracy which cannot be the source of the new ideas no matter how many millions we give our Poo Bahs. Does the UK have any ideas for us? A recent article regarding issues in the UK might be a source:

     Much like here, students are starting to drown in debt from their “precious” education, and this in turn is leading prospective students away from higher education, lest they too become victims. It might not be quite the same as the fraud or convergence we have in the US, but the end result, a school closing for lack of students, is the same.

     Like me, the author of the linked article realizes the big disaster here is the effect the closing will have on students. While he’s discussing a near closing, he realizes we’ve got some huge disasters here waiting to happen.

      What does he propose?

…outlined meagre protections for students at universities which are closing down, offering to oversee student transfer arrangements. ..

      Wow, meagre protections? That’s so much more than what we have here. Corinthian students, for example, got nothing, and I’ve cited a few examples of students being crushed by loans for coursework they didn’t know they enrolled for. Again, I’m looking at fraud, but it’s hard not to constantly go back to the fraud when considering the American higher education system.

      Let’s assume legitimacy. Why can’t we install protections for students caught in a failing but legitimate university?

      “We already have those protections through accreditation” is a natural response…but it’s wrong. Yes, in the past, one of the main reasons for our system of school accreditation was to facilitate transfer of credits from one school to another—it’s the whole reason that, say, the syllabus for the College Algebra course at State University of East Coast has basically the same material as Expensive Private University of West Coast.

    Of course, many campuses, especially community college campuses, are completely unhinged—what’s on the syllabus is unrelated to what actually happens in the course. Oh, wait, I didn’t want to focus on the fraud here so…moving on.

     Accreditation used to allow for transfer but…the rules for accreditation changed. Now, instead of allowing for easy transfer, accreditation is actually a roadblock—accredited schools can’t transfer more than 2 years of credits (this varies a bit by accreditor), so students in their 3rd year, or later, would still be greatly harmed by accreditation.

      It’s even worse than that, of course, as most schools don’t come even close to allowing the upper limit, with many schools only allowing perhaps 24 credit hours to transfer—this is about 20% of a degree, so not just advanced students, but any student with at least 2 semesters of college would be screwed by the university closing, as a matter of policy.

      Having seen accreditation rules completely ignored many times in many ways, however, schools could just change their policies. In fact, the Federal government can fix this whole issue in one easy step:

      Any school taking Federal student loan money must accept all transfer credits from any other school taking Federal student loan money.

      And, just like that, the whole “we can’t close the university, it’d be a disaster!” argument vanishes. Yes, the accreditors might have a problem with it, but seeing as they have no problem with massive systematic academic fraud (Hi UNC!), deeply immoral behavior (Hi Penn State!) or any of the other problems I’ve highlighted in this blog, I don’t see anyone paying much attention to their crying about my proposed rule. Bottom line, accreditation has been irrelevant for decades now, serving as nothing more as a co-conspirator with schools to skim that student loan money. Oh, wait, I’m supposed to not talk about the fraud for a bit…my apologies, it’s hard not to mention fraud when discussing any aspect of our higher education system.

     Perhaps my solution is too draconian but the bottom line is at some point we know a number of our big institutions will fail. Why aren’t any of our leaders in higher education planning ahead to take care of students?


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