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Generic Universities

Make college affordable again
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There's too much credence being placed in getting into the 'good schools,' which just gives schools marketing room to raise their prices. We need to remodel how they are priced in the public economy based on standard commodity lessons.

Taking away the 'branding' of public universities as much as reasonably possible makes this much more achievable.

We need to price schools by labor, class credit hours, and content, based on 'production costs,' not 'perceived value.'

With objective sciences in which there are right and wrong answers, this should be achievable. There will always be better and worse reputations, but we needn't amplify them.

State schools covering the same subjects should all have similar pricing, accounting for regional cost of living adjustments.

Genericized community colleges can cover the common core subjects such as what is offered during freshman and sophomore years. Should a student desire education beyond that offering, the private schools can focus on those, and not worry about the core subjects. This should provide them more space to work and less overhead.

RayfordSteele, May 20 2019

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       Universities should be made affordable, that's for sure. In the UK, university education was free until not so long ago. That included Oxford and Cambridge. Universities were reimbursed by the government. I don't know if the reimbursement per student was the same across all universities, but I would guess it was.   

       Should universities be "de-branded"? Absolutely not. It would be a disaster. At the moment, there is a "race to the bottom" amongst universities in general, now that students are customers. This would just make it worse.   

       If I'm hiring, I want to hire someone from Cambridge (not Oxford), because Cambridge has an outstanding (though now deteriorating) reputation in my field of research.   

       If you want to campaign for something, campaign to stop education being something you buy.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2019
  

       //university education was free //   

       Sp. "paid for by someone else"   

       // Universities were reimbursed by the government. //   

       Sp. "Universities were paid for by the unfortunate taxpayers, whether they wanted to, or benefited from it, or not."   

       And don't start with that stupid "Let's teach women and poor people to read" stuff again. You know it only causes trouble.
8th of 7, May 20 2019
  

       //If I'm hiring, I want to hire someone from Cambridge (not Oxford), because Cambridge has an outstanding (though now deteriorating) reputation in my field of research.//
I think there is a distinction between hiring people of the back of (a) the research that they have undertaken in a post-graduate context and (b) their undergraduate degree. Max's point may well hold for the former (I don't know, that's not my scene) but it doesn't hold for the latter. I don't say this because I didn't go to a Russell Group university (but I didn't), I say it because in my field, the ratio of dullards to capable professionals is the same across Russell and non-Russell group graduates. That the hiring skews towards Russell group is (again, in my field) more a function of the secondary schools that my colleagues attended than it is of their choice of university. Indeed, the choice of university is also a function of their secondary school.
  

       So, in sum, it doesn't matter what university you went to for your undergraduate course, it matters whether you are capable of learning, capable of speaking in something approximating sentences and capable of remembering the signs of a properly wiped arse. All the rest can be learned on the job.
calum, May 20 2019
  

       Yes, [8th], universities were paid for by the taxpayers, at the government's behest, because it was believed that an educated population would be of benefit to the country. I think it was one of the better uses of taxpayers' money, and it turns out that the government was right.   

       A free university education was, at that time, based largely on merit - i.e. whether you were smart enough to get in. Then Tony Bleagh decided that everyone needed a degree, which of course meant that they'd all have to pay for it themselves. As a result, universities are now in the industry of selling degrees, which used to be illegal but is now the accepted business model.   

       I appreciate that a degree (or even basic literacy and numeracy) is not a requirement in your own line of work (whatever that may be), but in other situations it can be an advantage.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2019
  

       Regardless of whether Cambridge was better or worse than Oxford, both taught courses like Vibrations 200 and Circuits 102 which are not terribly different in any competent institution. A $3000 per credit hour course in a 101 class at one institution looks a lot like a $200 per credit hour class in 2 year's time or less. The only difference is the bill.
RayfordSteele, May 20 2019
  

       Were you actually at Cambridge or Oxford? No disrespect, but I was and I know what it was like being at Cambridge from Day 1. There are reasons why top universities are top universities. I would be very surprised if this were not also true of Yale or Harvard.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2019
  

       //There are reasons why top universities are top universities.//
How many of these reasons are money?
calum, May 20 2019
  

       Money is definitely a large part of it. However, in the case of the best UK universities, they are (or at least were for 772 years; I can't vouch for the last 35) good because they are hard to get into. Cambridge is a good university because (a) it has the money to hire good people and (b) it is still incredibly selective, at least for UK students. But this selectivity is being eroded because every customer turned away is money lost.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2019
  

       //it doesn't matter what university you went to for your undergraduate course// Maybe not in all disciplines. I do know that in sciences, Cambridge undergraduates simply cover a lot more. That starts from day 1. By the end of the degree, a Cambridge undergraduate in sciences just knows a lot more than an undergraduate from most other UK universities.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 20 2019
  

       That's interesting but not incompatible with the model Rayford is putting forward: if the cost of the delivery is greater because there is more delivery, then more can be paid without breaking the model. In fact, making the outcomes modular allows for rich people to learn more, and so be able to earn more and so entrench capital and prospects all the better with a narrow class. Which is what happens now anyway, particularly with those universities which are predisposed to admitting students who went to uh posh schools.   

       The more I think about it, the Rayford Model comes to the same conclusion, unless we also genericise the economic benefits of being smart. If we don't, then teachers who are able to teach more and quicker will be able to charge more, which will drive up the cost of production and so the divide starts to grow again.   

       Perhaps the thing to do is to get rid of either rich people or poor people, I can't decide.
calum, May 20 2019
  

       <8th of 7>or just all people</8th of 7>
calum, May 20 2019
  

       Here in the states you could randomize student and professor alma mater assignments so that self- selection factors don't play a large role, like an NFL draft.   

       You could still opt to attend private universities which could maintain their own cost structures.   

       At Gen U they wouldn't do research. Perhaps the profs could do something akin to a teaching residency there before moving on to the private u practices or being tenured.
RayfordSteele, May 20 2019
  

       More general idea is de-branding organizations by referring to them by IDs, and branding industries, which represent socio-economic goals, making it cool to study (or work) in X industry, and not university X... ( But good luck with that, when everyone is incentivized to be different and exceptional in meaningless arrangement of 6 or 7 letters, instead of true creativity in the sense of science and engineering. )
Mindey, May 20 2019
  

       So, solar panel companies that own football leagues?
RayfordSteele, May 20 2019
  

       [RayfordSteele], yes, something like that! :) Solar panels as a brand behind all companies that make them and research groups that study, uniting all towards that mission.
Mindey, May 20 2019
  

       True science comes down to facts, not emotional branding of the facts. People can have the exceptional and also hold the ridiculous.   

       I'm sure the branding on Universities is just the same. Hopefully those higher class labels indicate less of of the ridiculous but it is not assured.   

       Genericized Universities would make everyone judge on a case by case basis, which, to me, is naturally a good thing. Even if the case is getting exponentially bigger.
wjt, May 21 2019
  

       Isn't DIY independent online learning going in this direction from the bottom up?
pocmloc, May 21 2019
  

       In some more advanced EU countries, going to University is either free or of minimal cost. In Germany it's free. In the Netherlands it's 2k€ per year and there is the prospect of that being halved. Places that favour further education as being the exclusive preserve for the wealthy or the privileged (like the UK and USA) tend to charge mega-money, and run their Universities as money making businesses.
xenzag, May 21 2019
  

       In the UK it's worse than that. First, we discarded the "free university" model in, I don't know, the 90s I guess.   

       But then Tony Bleagh decided everyone needed a degree, and arranged a student loan system to make it possible. As a result, there is now only a modest bias towards the wealthy, but there is no bias towards the most gifted students. The whole system is dumbing down.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 21 2019
  

       Much of what goes on the UK is inclined now towards a combination of "oikism" and dumbing down - brexit being the perfect example, with the ascendence of a Trump replica moron like Farage being a particularly depressing feature. I'm glad I spend most of my time in a flourishing, progressive EU country now. The UK is depressing, grim, chaotic, directionless and falling apart. The University mess is just a symptom of a greater stupidy being realised. The UK is now like a person who sets fire to their pockets in the only coat they have, to act as hand warmers on a cold day.
xenzag, May 21 2019
  

       Gents, if you live in Scotland, and attend a Scottish university, the cost of your tuition is zero if you meet the eligibility criteria, and about £1,800pa if you don't. Forrins, which includes the English, pay the same £9,000. Americans will find these numbers trifling, I am sure.
calum, May 21 2019
  

       Yes, but you come out with a degree in haggis.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 21 2019
  

       //Forrins, which includes the English, pay the same £9,000// - although if you're from Yurp you pay £0
hippo, May 21 2019
  

       //But then Tony Bleagh decided everyone needed a degree, and arranged a student loan system to make it possible. As a result, there is now only a modest bias towards the wealthy, but there is no bias towards the most gifted students. The whole system is dumbing down.//
I'm struggling to see the harm. Arguably the average intelligence of a UK university student is lower than it would have been in the 1950s (for example) but that does not reflect badly upon or damage the prestige of those students who go to the elite universities (on the contrary, it helps them be the metaphorical stream of bat's piss). What the increased availability and provision of university education does is improve the national average in terms of educational experience, which is in my mind A Good Thing.
  

       I am not a huge fan of Blair or his projects (and would argue that redbrickery predates him by some considerable time) but I do think that he was correct that (a) school-level education in the UK is not likely to be sufficient in a largely service based economy and (b) putting people in full time education sure does help with those pesky youth unemployment figures.   

       ///Forrins, which includes the English, pay the same £9,000// - although if you're from Yurp you pay £0//
I did not know this! But I am in favour.
  

       Apologies for the derail, Rayford.
calum, May 21 2019
  

       Haggis tech is pretty serious business. I think rocket scientists and synbio experts could do well to study the niceties of suet grading and spice combining, not to mention the logistical issues of sourcing lights.
pocmloc, May 21 2019
  

       To be fair, that sourcing issue is of greater concern to the sheep than to the haggis engineer.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 21 2019
  

       I might apply for a grant to develop a new degree course in Haggis carving, just for Scotland naturally.
xenzag, May 21 2019
  

       You'll need to catch your haggis first
hippo, May 21 2019
  

       //Were you actually at Cambridge or Oxford?//   

       No. I was at Rose-Hulman, the first school in the nation to offer a chemical engineering degree, and subscriber to the Cambridge model of accelerated studies.
RayfordSteele, May 21 2019
  

       though even accreditation is often questionable, the first step is to separate accreditation from college. It would be far better that if you had to achieve a Bachelor of Engineering or Science you had to take a test, and how you prepare for that test was a matter of choice.   

       Imagine how much more productive the economy would be, if instead of paying $200K to go to college you were paid anything, even poverty rate salary over the same 4 years to be an apprentice in the same company you hope to work for after college. Hell, even if you had to pay them for the privilege you'd be better off.   

       Take the so called "core curriculum" of things everyone must pass to graduate, be it English 101, etc, and move it to the high school curriculum, where it's already free.   

       focus schools an preparing for accredited degrees.   

       Four years in a liberal arts private university is an upper class (or at least an upper middle class) luxury that somehow migrated into a necessity. It's utterly pointless - - you don't need a college degree for most of the jobs attained with an English or Psychology degree, and you need other accreditation anyway when it's close (e.g. teaching jobs).   

       If you have no hope of getting a real engineering or science degree, even if you're Ernst Hemingway (and perhaps especially so), you have no business being in college. If you want to be a lawyer you should be able to start studying law without a prior college degree. If you want to learn history watch Ancient Aliens. Or read books.
theircompetitor, May 21 2019
  

       //if instead of paying $200K to go to college you were paid anything, even poverty rate salary over the same 4 years to be an apprentice in the same company you hope to work for after college// That happens. My daughter's PhD is sponsored by Rolls Royce (aeroengines).   

       //Take the so called "core curriculum" of things everyone must pass to graduate, be it English 101, etc, and move it to the high school curriculum// That also happens. In the UK, students are expected to have passed A-levels which are, roughly, the equivalent of Year 1 of a US degree. That's why most UK degrees are 3 years long (though there is a trend nowadays to spin them out to 4, awarding an MA or MSc in addition to a BA or BSc).   

       //paying $200K// Jeeezus - seriously? That's just insane.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 21 2019
  

       I America if you can throw a ball for about a half mile, you can get into any University, and may well end up being the President. (oh wait, that's the golf ball version)
xenzag, May 21 2019
  

       [MB] I'm aware this happens for graduate school, my point is it could happen instead of the four year degree.   

       Someone who graduated with a Masters in English from, say, NYU, would have spent (or borrowed) over 300K.   

       State and city schools are typically both excellent and much cheaper, but bourgeois prestige and unwillingness to tell privileged kids no drives many to private schools (and in many cases to state schools out of state, which negates the cost savings)   

       When our Dems talk about making college free, they is almost no scenario where that gets as far as NYU or the Ivy League schools, but they will likely push to make city and state schools free. Of course the privilege fighters would ultimately argue that this will only devalue those educations as opposed to the ones you actually have to pay for.   

       It's a big industry in the US, growing fast -- but likely to face a collapse soon enough
theircompetitor, May 21 2019
  

       Any nation where people can say "I couldn't afford the education" is a sick nation. Especially if it's as wealthy as the US. But the UK isn't much better. Tuition fees can be up to £9000 (say $16K) per year, or $48K for a three-year degree. And that doesn't include actual living costs. It's an absolute fucking crime.   

       I'm angry about it largely because I went through university at no cost to myself or my parents (who weren't rich, but weren't broke either). The state paid not only for tuition, but also a living allowance that was just about enough to actually live on. The idea of having a job in addition to being a student was insane. I hate knowing that my daughter is growing up in a less civilised country than I did.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 21 2019
  

       Any nation where people can say "I couldn't afford the education" is a sick nation. Especially if it's as wealthy as the US. But the UK isn't much better. Tuition fees can be up to £9000 (say $16K) per year, or $48K for a three-year degree. And that doesn't include actual living costs. It's an absolute fucking crime.   

       I'm angry about it largely because I went through university at no cost to myself or my parents (who weren't rich, but weren't broke either). The state paid not only for tuition, but also a living allowance that was just about enough to actually live on. The idea of having a job in addition to being a student was insane. I hate knowing that my daughter is growing up in a less civilised country than I did.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 21 2019
  

       [MaxwellBuchanan], it's more-or-less the same in New Zealand.
<rant>
There are 3 facets:
1: "Everyone should go to University"
2: Universities are a for-profit business
3: The student loan scheme

By wanting everyone to go to university (probably brought on by politicians or administrators with stupid children), the courses need to be dumbed-down somewhat. Lots more students requires more staff, who would like to get paid, so more money is required. But instead of the government giving more money to the universities, some genius decided it was a better idea to LOAN it to the students, who eventually must pay it back. Meanwhile, because everyone and their uncle has a dumbed-down degree, the dregrees become effectively worthless.
So you have a huge number of people with worthless degrees and a huge debt!
University is (was...) "higher education". A degree was a respected accomplishment.
It's something I really don't understand: "normal" people have absolutely no problem with physical elitism (all the worshipped sports stars...) but as soon as some-one mentions intellectual elitism they're all "no no we can't have that".
University should be for the smartest 10% or 15% of us, regardless of financial or social status. Entry should be due to the results of an entry exam (or whatever) not the size of your checkbook.
Grr!!
</rant>
neutrinos_shadow, May 21 2019
  

       Wow. Who knew New Zealand was so much like England?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 21 2019
  

       48k per degree? I'm sending my kids to school in the UK. What does it take to become a citizen there?   

       Rose these days is 48k or more per year.
RayfordSteele, May 22 2019
  

       //campaign to stop education being something you buy.//   

       Hear hear!   

       Yep, trying to put kids through university with blood, sweat, and grit is a bitch.   

       the main problem is student loans which enable the schools to raise prices. It's an unholy alliance of commercial interest and government programs. Demand combined with loan availability which is not correlated to the degree's monetary value have caused the prices to skyrocket.
theircompetitor, May 22 2019
  

       Yep. It's insane. And it's the demand that is devaluing the degrees. Not only are they easier to get (because, as customers, pretty much everyone has to pass), but now that everyone has one they mean less.   

       It's also worse for people who don't get degrees. Having a degree is irrelevant in many professions - in fact, experience is often worth more than a degree. But now things like apprenticeships are denigrated.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 22 2019
  

       I would have thought that if >50% of people have a degree, then not having one becomes a mark of distinction? At an extreme, if 90% of applications for a position have degrees, then the 10% without become notable, and invite further questioning as to why not, and why they might nonetheless consider it worth applying.
pocmloc, May 22 2019
  

       When I went to art college to do product design / industrial design it was a college diploma for two years followed by an advanced college diploma for another two years, and it was full time (every day). We were assured back then (this was 1980) that it is an equivalence to a degree, and that there’s no real advantage to a degree in the field over a diploma. This was true then. My ACD (with distinction) was seen as an achievement. During the late 80s education structures changed and everything became a university, and every course funnelled into a degree. Now, if you say you’ve got anything other than a degree people immediately look down on it without any consideration of the actual work achieved on the course. I was actually more qualified than most other graphic / print / photo / design practitioners I used to work with, and nobody at any time ever asked about my studies anyway.   

       When I went to do my MSc in this century I paid for it all myself (well, on credit card each semester actually! Paid off since) and found it was quite different – only required to turn up some of the days of the week, for example. I was one of the most industrious and driven students on my MSc (hence achieving the highest mark (with distinction) the uni had ever awarded in the end) and came to wonder what on earth the value of a (relatively easy to accomplish) Masters degree is when I spent a lot more effort and time on four years of study nobody recognises and that isn’t even recorded anywhere now (the college doesn’t exist and records weren’t kept longer than 7 years).   

       I say that degrees are not the only fruit, and there should be a finer granularity of other attainments and certification, with a suitable cachet of respect for all of them. At the moment, it seems only a degree counts and nothing else amounts to anything at all, which is fundamentally incorrect.
Ian Tindale, May 22 2019
  

       In NZ, we had an apprentice scheme; basically the government pays the apprentice's wage instead of the company they're working/learning for (I don't know the exact details...).
But (late 1980's, IIRC) the government decided that this was a Bad Idea, and canned it. So for a long time, there were no apprentices coming up through the trades (etc). So they all had to go through polytechs to learn the skills, which (of course) cost more money.
Finally a few years ago (maybe 10; I forget) the apprentice scheme was re-introduced, so people can learn "on-the-job" once again.
neutrinos_shadow, May 22 2019
  

       All education, just like all health care, should be free of charge and declared a human right. Me say.
blissmiss, May 22 2019
  

       Remember, folks, a vote for [blissmiss] is a vote for [blissmiss]!
MaxwellBuchanan, May 22 2019
  

       If I could afford it I would gladly spend the portion of my life I now spend busting my ass knocking one course after another out of the park... credentials be damned, just for my own self.   

       You know that, instead of spending all that time getting a PhD, you can just change your first name to 'Doctor'?
hippo, May 23 2019
  

       Weight should on Technical institutes, Polytechs, I think Community Colleges in the States. to take the un-directed young. Work could help in this respect.   

       This would be a way of producing well balanced, semi-informed, knowledge enthusiastic public. If people do exceptionally, or have an exceptional thirst in a particular area then University is for them. It should be higher learning, not the average general knowledge society needs to run.
wjt, May 23 2019
  

       Genetic Universities could be a thing, with selective breeding programmes...... Oh wait, perhaps not. Ha!
xenzag, May 23 2019
  

       There is the complication that in the States, technical institutes and colleges and universities are not so easily separated by their descriptors. MIT is not a community college or peddler of subprime associated degrees in gun repair. 'University of Phoenix' is not a university worthy of the name. I battle this all the time when I tell people about my exceedingly small if nightmarishly difficult school which is an Institute of Technology. City College of New York is well- respected. Cooper Union is as well, but what, a union?
RayfordSteele, May 23 2019
  

       The CUNY system is great and much much cheaper. In Jersey Rutgers and TCNJ are great, and relatively cheap.   

       The problem is that many kids want to go to private schools or go out of state for bizarre reasons like football or basketball team status. Again, they complain about it, but it's largely a matter of privilege, they should have gone locally and to where they can afford.
theircompetitor, May 23 2019
  

       Wait. They have a system in the US called CUNY?? Snigger snigger.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 23 2019
  

       Yes that's where I got my bacchanal from
theircompetitor, May 23 2019
  

       Good thing northern Texas doesn't have a university.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 23 2019
  
      
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