By Professor Doom
I’m continuing to look at a thorough discussion of the main reasons higher education is such a mess today. The author cites four key problem areas, but as always I have some things to add.
By all available metrics, student intellectual performance has declined precipitously as the university administration has ballooned…the takeaway numbers regarding the university’s role in the decline are shocking: 45 percent of students “did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning” during the first two years of college…
While the above is certainly correct, and I’ve already noted college graduate IQ is in freefall right now, to the point that it’s reasonable to consider today’s college graduates of below average intelligence. The author fails to identify why this is the case. Again I emphasize the twin issues of corrupted (by administration) accreditation and fraudulent student loans.
Back when accreditation was legitimate, accredited schools were forced to have “respectable entrance requirements.” Honest, if universities restricted admissions to only students who displayed some interest in education, the author would not be able to blame the students for what’s happening in higher education today.
The student loan scam provides money to anyone who wants to set foot on campus, and that includes people who have no interest in learning anything. And…this is where admin come in. They took over accreditation so that “restricted admissions” was removed, and campuses flooded with students (and those sweet student loan checks!).
Then admin told faculty to keep on passing even the fake students, instead of flunking them off campus after one semester. And so faculty no longer asked students to read, to write, to learn anything at all which couldn’t be picked up in a few minutes’ effort at most. We now have social promotion in college because it’s so important to keep those student loan checks flowing.
The author goes into more detail why students are a problem, but…no. Administration, through corrupted accreditation and the broken student loan system, are far more a problem than the students, and the many fake students on campus today will vanish overnight if we remove student loans so they’d have nothing to gain by coming to campus, or alternatively (by some miracle) make accreditation force entrance requirements on schools.
Where is all the money going? In 1970 in the United States, 268,952 administrators and staffers supported the work of 446,830 full-time professors. Today, the proportions have almost flipped. Now we have 675,000 professors being “supported” by 756,595 administrators and staffers.
The above is documented, but it should also be pointed out that we’ve tripled our student base in that time, and tripled our administrators…while the number of professors has increased only 50%. It’s actually worse than this, as many administrative positions have been “reclassified” as faculty positions (for example, the library staff), even if these supposed faculty teach nobody and perform no research. The reason for doing so is it make the “student/faculty” ratio look better. Supposedly, this ratio is around 17 on many campuses, even if every classroom has at least 50 students and every faculty teaches at least 5 classes…it’s curious how no administrator understands how these numbers can’t possibly be accurate, though I certainly forgive the author for not realizing this part of the fraud of higher education (so many frauds to follow, after all).
One exception to this grim story is how elites educate their own children. The Waldorf School of the Peninsula, which teaches the kids of many who work for Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Hewlett-Packard, doesn’t allow computers or cell phones or iPads in its K-12 classrooms. There it is all about real human contact, free conversation, and tactile, intellectual, and emotional engagement. And when it comes to elite universities, things are similarly oriented. The children of the wealthy and powerful are not reading half-page op-eds for their weekly course content and then pressing a clicker to indicate whether they like it or not
While the above isn’t directly related to the rest of the article here, I include it because it’s really, really, important for the gentle reader to know. The education commoners get is nothing like the education the elite get—John Taylor Gatto discusses this in detail (I strongly encourage the gentle reader to consider what this multiple teacher-of-the-year winner has to say, and to read his other works as well).
Similarly, the elite don’t send their kids to the mostly bogus higher education system the commoners go to. In particular, their kids don’t go to community college, hence why the frauds there are generally so huge.
The author returns to discussing the problems of our current higher education system.
The University Curriculum
…one cause of the decline is “lack of rigor.” Students can’t do things they used to be able to do for the simple reason that we no longer insist that they do them. And why is that? …If students cannot think, read, or write any longer, it’s because administrators don’t care if they can or can’t.
The above is certainly correct, and again highlights the failure of accreditation, which is supposed to certify the legitimacy of the education at an institution. My first decade in higher education, I believed my universities were systematically defrauding accreditation. It was only when I went to an unaccredited school, and went through all the forms necessary to get accreditation that I realized the truth:
You can’t defraud accreditation regarding the education at a university. Accreditors DO NOT CARE about education. I’ve gone line by line over how a school gets accredited, at no point is education relevant to the process. As UNC demonstrated, you can literally run fraudulent courses for thousands of students, actively work to cover up the fraud, destroy the careers and livelihood of any faculty who tried to fix the fraud, maintain the fraud for a couple decades…and the accreditor does not care, and at no point will the accreditor threaten to remove accreditation and the flow of those sweet, sweet, student loan checks.
And so again I point out that if we fix accreditation, or get rid of the student loan checks, this problem will likely dramatically reduce in severity. The author discusses the problems in more detail but I feel it’s better simply to identify how to start fixing the problems.
The next issue identified is:
…that was how the university used to function. Administrators arose from the general faculty, served their terms in office, and then returned to their home departments.
As I’ve mentioned before, the university used to be run by scholars, each taking over the many part-time administrative positions for a while before fully returning to faculty. Please understand, this made sense, as most administrative positions really aren’t necessary for 8 hours a day, particularly when classes aren’t in session.
Now our campuses are run by full-time administrators, filling their time doing things no faculty could even guess. I’m inclined to blame faculty for ceding the reins of power to the wandering plunderers who run campuses today. The student loan scam poured so much money on campus it seemed like a good idea at the time to just hire a full time Dean or whatever to deal with issues, little realizing what non-scholars would do in these positions…faculty gave loaded guns to these chimpanzees.
That’s my opinion based on direct observation. The author offers a different reason for the appearance of the plunderers:
Once the mandate changed to supplying the economy not with “skilled” labor — universities have always done that — but with a certain technically minded human being, scholars were deemed not merely unqualified to execute the mandate, but antithetical to it. And they were, stated in this way, which is why they were removed from university governance and academic decision-making.
I disagree here. Who removed faculty from university governance? Obviously, faculty did, at least initially, as they were the only ones who could do so. Who set the new agenda for what higher education was supposed to be about, leading to the mess we have today? The people faculty foolishly hired to replace them.
Once we let them in, they used their power to hire more of their kind, which in turn hired more. It’s been a very destructive parasitic infestation:
A first step in the process was to hire senior managers from outside the local university so boards of governors could vet them for agreement with the new corporate ethos. These managers were in turn empowered to duplicate themselves within the institution through the appointment of like-minded colleagues and staff. This cohort of the corporate-minded has grown at a rate such that it has outpaced all other university appointments — in the United States a 240 percent increase from 1985 to 2005 compared to a mere 50 percent for faculty.
I see only the drastic solution of cutting off the money paying for these guys: kill the student loan scam, and schools will either quickly go bankrupt (and most will), or fire the vast bulk of their useless administrative staff. I can’t fathom a guess at how many will take the latter option. 1%? 5%? Not many. However, the bankrupted schools will create an educational vacuum which allow new schools to be built from the ground up.
With luck, the new schools will adopt the methods which allowed us to have the best system of universities in the world. It sure won’t be pretty for the first few years after the student loans are finally shut off, however.
Please understand, this drastic action is both necessary, and inevitable:
Why do calls for austerity and downsizing apply to everyone these people? Isn’t the point of good administration that it’s done efficiently and cheaply? In Canadian universities, part-time faculty now do 60 percent to 70 percent of the teaching because full-time faculty have been cut so dramatically.
The parasitic administrative class has grown so large that it’s destroying the host. Already, many schools cannot afford to have teachers because they spend so much on endless ranks of administrators, who mostly spend their time scrambling to find the cheapest teachers they can get…even as tuition climbs and climbs and climbs.
…as David Layzell, fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, said to the when asked about the administrative culture at the University of Calgary: “‘I really don’t feel that I can talk with you about this.’ He added: ‘Maybe that says more than us actually talking’.”
The culture of fear of higher education really has what faculty as remain terrified. Again, I point at the money. During Prohibition, mobsters controlled alcohol, because there was so much money in doing so. Everyone still drank…but you were afraid to talk about it openly.
However, once Prohibition ended…the fear factor in getting a beer vanished overnight. And the mobsters no longer controlled the alcohol.
In a similar vein, even though 80% of the citizens of this country go to college in some form, there’s a culture of fear here due to higher education’s control by the thugs running the institutions. Kill the student loan scam, and I very much suspect that culture of fear will disappear quickly.
Next we’ll look at the final issue in this article.