Gina Patnaik and Aaron Bady have a post you should check out, On Privatization and Brutalizing Campuses:
Turning to the images and language used to imagine the university might seem like a way to side-step more pressing questions such as: the university president’s refusal to relinquish emergency powers, never-ending fee hikes, and the devaluation of the arts and humanities, which just a few of the consequences of privatization. Dwelling on just a few of the proliferating photos and messages swirling around recent events, however, might just allow us to attend to the deep structure of the administration’s disregard for its academic community and the campus space which that community works each day to create.
Somewhat related, here’s my favorite graph juke of the week. J.D. LaRock at the OECD’s Education blog has this post, Increasing higher education access: one goal, many approaches (h/t Yglesias). The post features the following graph:
The blog post notes that more people should consider the strategy in the upper-right corner, the one with high tuition but higher “public subsidies.” OECD:
…charging a moderate level of tuition fees – while simultaneously giving students opportunities to benefit from comprehensive financial aid systems – is an effective way for countries to increase access to higher education, stretch limited public funds, and promote equity by acknowledging the significant private returns that students receive from higher education….
The OECD’s review suggests that financial aid systems that couple means-tested grants and loans that have income-contingent repayments not only promote access and equity at the front end of higher education, but also lead to better outcomes for students at the back end. Australia and New Zealand have used this approach to mitigate the impact of high tuition fees, encourage disadvantaged students to enter higher education, and reduce the risks of high student loan indebtedness. Other OECD countries that use this strategy include Chile, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The United States has higher tuition but that is balanced with more subsidies. Cool. I wonder where that graph came from? The blog post references this pdf – How are countries around the world supporting students in higher education? – which has the same exact graph.
But that graph references Education at a Glance 2011: OECD Indicators (big pdf). And here is the original graph. While it has the same data, it looks a bit different (page number 256):
Here there’s an emphasis that we are talking about public colleges in the graph itself. But more importantly, it includes an arrow indicating movements since 1995. And here the United States has moved straight up in the graph – more tuition, no additional subsidies.
The subsidies are divided in the document between student loans and grants/scholarships. Since we know the percentage of students graduating with student loans has increased over this time period, the percentage of those with just grants/scholarships has gone down. Not only is tuition increasing rapidly with no additional subsidies, but the subsidies themselves have shifted to putting the costs to students with students loans (loan which the government makes around a 20% profit on – some subsidy!).
It’s like we are seeing US college privatization in action in this second graph – an abandonment of the public, merit-good ideal of colleges, an increase in monetizing the process, a nominal gesture towards balancing access that is predicated on mass debt, and runaway cost inflation. I wonder why the OECD scrubbed the graph before using it to recommend this system to their readers?