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Collaboration among colleges may help

Competition is always a good thing in business, unless that business is a college or university, says a recent editorial from Bloomberg.

Mark C.Taylor writes:

[In] higher education, competition often discourages risk taking, leads to overly cautious short-term decisions, produces a mediocre product for the price, and promotes excessive spending on physical plants and bureaucracies.


The construction arms race on campus is the most visible example of competition run amok. To become more attractive to potential consumers, many colleges and universities undertake overly ambitious expansions. In some cases, new facilities contribute to educational programs, but too often they are tangential and trap institutions in a costly cycle: The new athletic center, dorm or student center starts to look faded when competing schools open theirs, and it never ends.

Rather than compete, the solution for higher education is to collaborate. Taylor suggests cutting costs and sharing resources by pooling faculty and outsourcing some classes. Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology are teaming up to offer free online courses, which he says is a good start.

Commenters on, however, offered their own solutions.

William Knorpp wrote:

GradsHere's a better idea: get rid of useless, bogus majors like business, "communications" and x studies for most values of x. Quit spending vast sums of cash on student amenities and ports, and quit hiring too many administrators and paying them too much. Of course there are deadbeat professors in every department (I'm a prof myself, so I know whereof I speak), but, sadly, nobody knows how to root them out without doing more damage than its worth.

Gordon disagreed with the source of the problem:

This isn't a problem of competition.  It is one of over supply.  There are far too many universities that will admit just about anyone.  Degrees are conferred for doing little more than showing up and, of course, paying your bill.

Kevin Cahill had other ideas: Textbooks

As a first step toward academic sanity, American colleges and universities should end intercollegiate athletics and instead encourage all their students to play intramural sports.  Such a policy would save money and make 99 percent of their students healthier and better able to study and learn.

Cellisis had a practical, economics-based solution:

why don't they compete for lower tuition instead? i am sure that many student will go for the low tuition and good education over anything else.


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