"Higher Education Bubble" AQ Issue in Print

Peter Wood

Will the rise of online education, the student loan debt crisis, and the growing doubt about the value of college lead to a “higher education bubble”? Will we soon see a cultural defection in which many Americans choose alternatives to college? When more people realize they are paying too much for too little, will it change the way they view the path to success? Will the traditional higher education industry go the way of the housing market? The fall issue (vol. 24, no. 3) of our quarterly journal Academic Questions, now in print and online, asks, “Is there a bubble in higher education?”

NAS members have already received printed copies of this issue in the mail. If you are a member and would like to read journal articles online, email nasonweb@nas.org with “AQ access” in the subject line. We’ll email you a unique link which you can use to set up your online AQ account. If you are not a member of NAS, please join us! We welcome everyone who agrees with our principles. Membership is renewable annually and includes a one-year subscription to Academic Questions in print and online.

Here are the featured articles from the “Higher Education Bubble” issue (there are also additional reviews, poetry, and “books, articles, and items of academic interest,” not listed here). Three of them (“Cost Versus Enrollment Bubbles,” “Scholasticism: Causes and Cures,” and “Academe’s House Divided”) are available free at www.nas.org.

Higher Education’s Precarious Hold on Consumer Confidence
Peter Wood, National Association of Scholars

Is there bubble in higher education? NAS president Peter Wood responds point-by-point to those who argue against the overwhelming signs that there is. In the process, Dr. Wood makes a convincing case that higher education badly needs an overhaul in order to operate more effectively and efficiently.

[A previous version of this article is available on NAS.org here.]

Cost Versus Enrollment Bubbles 
Richard K. Vedder, The Independent Institute and OhioUniversity
Andrew Gillen, Center for College Affordability and Productivity

In addressing the same question, Richard K. Vedder and Andrew Gillen systematically explain how we are currently facing two potential and interacting bubbles: costs and enrollments. As bubbles inflate, “it is easy to rationalize continuing trends and mock critics as doomsayers,” but the unconvinced should carefully consider why—based on the best estimate of yearly instructional costs for current students—Americans “are still spending $409 billion on higher education when it should cost around $150 billion.”

Success without College
Jason Fertig, University of Southern Indiana

Jason Fertig tackles the question by looking at the careers of both well-known and “ordinary” people who have achieved success and satisfaction in life without the benefit of a college degree, and urges those concerned with higher education to “shift your energies away from proving the existence of the bubble to advocating solutions to the problem.”

Scholasticism: Causes and Cures
Lawrence M. Mead, New York University

In the second part of “The Other Danger…Scholasticism in Academic Research” (Winter 2010), Lawrence M. Mead defines “scholasticism” as the ever narrowing focus on subject matter that is of interest only to other academics studying the same arcane material, and uses his own field of political science to discuss the proliferation (in quantity) and the diminution (in quality) of academic research, particularly in the social sciences.

Counseling and Social Justice
Robert C. Hunsaker, University of Phoenix

Robert C. Hunsaker expands on The Scandal of Social Work Education, a National Association of Scholars study documenting the commitment to left-wing “social justice” in social work programs at ten major public institutions. In this detailed and thoroughly documented article, Prof. Hunsaker outlines the changes social justice activists are pursuing, and exhorts opponents of this powerful movement to “respond now or struggle against the likelihood of many alienating changes to come.” He also reminds professional psychology and counseling organizations of their “ethical obligation to be more critical of the movement’s exclusive politics.”

On Hypertext, or Back to the Landau
David Solway

In another of his clever and learned ruminations, wordsmith David Solway unravels the truth about “hypertext,” and shows how those never-ending links to others works in online publication can actually fragment and disorient the student mind. Dr. Solway proves that that if a book is a fortifying font of knowledge, hypertext is a debilitating labyrinth.

Catholic in Name Only
Anne Hendershott, The King’s College

A number of Catholic colleges and universities have become as secularized as many once identifiably Protestant institutions of higher education. Anne Hendershott describes some of the most egregious examples of this devolution, as well as various efforts to counteract it.

Academe’s House Divided
Daniel B. Klein, George Mason University

Daniel B. Klein reviews The Still Divided Academy, the final work of NAS and AQ editorial advisory board member Stanley Rothman, which was completed after his death by April Kelly-Woessner and Matthew Woessner.

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