Just about everyone agrees that college is way too expensive. The hard part is figuring out what to do about it. Over at National Review, Victor Davis Hanson proposes ten areas for reform to make colleges more accountable and degrees more affordable. A number of his proposed reforms address problems we’ve spotlighted on this blog: administrative bloat, the pernicious effects of the tenure system, money wasted on unnecessary academic publications, and even the rise of university-administered “kangaroo courts” for students accused of certain types of misconduct. He also proposes some interesting ideas we haven’t devoted much attention to:
Since university costs have gone up over 7 percent annually on average for the last two decades, it is past time for transparency, especially given the infusion of state and federal subsidies. How strange that universities will publish statistical data on almost every facet of American life—from racial matters to the environment—but not provide the public with a detailed breakdown of their own expenditures to allow students and their parents to understand why their tuition is priced as it is. Students should have the choice of deciding whether they wish to attend a college that budgets for rock-climbing walls, an Assistant Dean of Internet Technology, or visits by a Michael Moore or John Edwards.
Some of the ideas seem more impactful than others; more transparent admissions would be nice, for example, but not exactly a game changer. Nevertheless Hanson aptly diagnoses many of the problems affecting academe and proposes some interesting solutions. Read the whole thing.