November 22, 2009

PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE ON THE UCLA TUITION “RIOT:”

In the first place, reliable counts say that there’s only about 200 students at the protest–out of an enrollment of almost 40,000. 0.5% is not exactly the March on Washington.

In the second place, what realistic alternatives would the protesters prefer? . . .

I believe that the UC system is going to have to get smaller. We can’t fund everything. We need to right-size, however, rather than downsizing. Cuts should be made strategically, so that the strongest programs on each campus remain strong. If you want to think about it this way, we have to cull the herd and the weakest members have to go.

We also have to face the reality that tuition and endowments are going to be the major sources of funding going forward. Unfortunately, in the present economy, development and fund-raising are tough. So we must look to tuition to fund our programs.

I think this will be the case nationwide. Plus, some related thoughts from Jerry Pournelle:

got my education in a state university system: indeed I went to the University of Washington because I was legally a Washington state resident due to my parents then residing in the then Territory of Alaska — Alaskans were Washington state residents, since Alaska was an economic colony of Seattle at the time. I couldn’t afford a private university, and I was running out of the GI Bill which had paid my way through much of the University of Iowa where I was certainly not a resident. Long story. My point is that I can hardly denounce the state university system in this country.

But whether given the new and enormous costs of state universities — see the Iron Law of Bureaucracy for many of the reasons why — and the enormous expansion of that system (California used to have a system in which the Universities had tiny elite undergraduate programs and were mostly graduate schools, and the State Colleges were undergraduate schools with little graduate school activity — but that got thrown out in the name of diversity and equality, and now there’s no sane allocation system.

But the students had to be dispersed by riot police. And it’s not over. That’s education for you.

The solution is to admit fewer students to the expensive education systems, and expand the cheaper ones. But that won’t happen. It would make too much sense.

Transparency and subsidiarity… That is, keep the State centralized university system, scale it to what can be afforded, and give the local state colleges to their local districts, to control and to finance as they can and will. But that is not likely to happen.

Stay tuned.

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