Saturday, February 14, 2015

For profit universities are problematic

One of the most crazy and disturbing ideas of the current Australian government for "reform" of universities is to "become more like the USA" which means to "deregulate", "make users pay" and "increase competition" and allow more "private [i.e. for profit] providers". This video by the inimitable John Oliver shows why for-profit colleges [coupled with generous government loan schemes] are a really bad idea.

A less entertaining but thorough analysis of the Australian proposals, and with similar concerns, has been given by my UQ economics colleague Paul Frijters on the Core Economics blog. 


  1. I think the most dangerous aspect of the American college financing system is the stigma surrounding considering cost as a factor in choosing a college to attend. Everything else we buy, we're willing to consider whether there's something else very nearly as good for much cheaper, but choosing such a college (or, at least, admitting that one has done so) doesn't seem to be accepted.

  2. Cost was very much a part of the calculus when I applied and was admitted to the College of William & Mary. At the time, it was said to be the second best education you could get per dollar spent in the US. First was Rice (a private university with a huge endowment). William and Mary is a small (~3-5K students?) liberal arts university within the Virginia state public system.

    Tuition is out of control in the US. Partly this is because the importance of a tertiary education to subsequent earning potential has been oversold.

    The for-profit colleges highlighted in the video are generally perceived as not being good value. Clearly, these people were ill-advised to go to there in the first place. On the other hand, it is quite hard to make the "fool and their money soon parted" argument in the example of marketing to brain-damaged veterans.