Archibald, R. and Feldman, D. (2010) Why does college cost so much? Forbes, August 11

If you can fight your way past the really annoying advertisements on this site, the article is very interesting in its treatment of how technology affects the costs of higher education. The authors are promoting their new book.

They argue that “The artisanal nature of higher education makes it expensive, and technology is more a cause of price increases than a solution….. Our story of rising cost is devoid of bad people making bad decisions. This means that there are no simple fixes, like price controls, that would not also reduce the quality of the education we offer.”

The real cause of the problem, they argue, is the financial aid system in the USA that makes it difficult for poor people to afford the increasing costs of higher education.

Well, I’m sorry, guys, but I’m not really buying this argument. Certainly a better system of financial aid will help, but the fixation on small classes and high levels of interaction with highly paid professors, using increasingly expensive technology as bells and whistles on a traditional teaching model is very much part of the problem of increasing costs. Better subsidies for students doesn’t solve the problem of making university education more relevant and more cost-effective.


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