Repairing Higher Ed


Ohio University economist Richard Vedder is the director and founder of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. A prominent opponent of government subsidies for higher education, he is the author of Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much (AEI Press). reason asked Vedder for three ways to fix higher education.

1 Government needs to get out of the way. We overly subsidize higher education. The rationale for government subsidies is 1) giving everyone a chance to succeed and 2) promoting economic growth. The evidence indicates that neither justification is valid. The correlation between economic growth and college attainment is at best neutral, and government involvement has had a negative economic effect.

2 Get government out of student loans, perhaps over a transitional period.

3 We need to measure things. We have no idea if kids are learning anything. The current model doesn't work, and the current universities are not going to reform on their own. If government money starts disappearing, however, they will be forced to change or go out of business, and the for-profits and other new models will emerge. That's where the solution lies.