Higher Education Is Morally & Financially Bankrupt

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

A system that piles debt on students in exchange for a marginal or even zero-return on their investment is morally and financially bankrupt.

Every once in a while you run across an insider's narrative of a corrupt, morally bankrupt sector that absolutely nails the sector's terminal rot. Here is that nails-it narrative for higher education: Pass, Fail: An inside look at the retail scam known as the modern university.

Here are excerpts of the article, which was published in Canada but is equally applicable to higher education in the U.S.:

A university degree, after all, is a credential crucial for economic success. At least, that’s what we’re told. But as with all such credentials—those sought for the ends they promise rather than the knowledge they represent—the trick is to get them cheaply, quickly, and with as little effort as possible. My students’ disaffection is the real face of this ambition.


I teach mostly bored youth who find themselves doing something they neither value nor desire—and, in some cases, are simply not equipped for—in order to achieve an outcome they are repeatedly warned is essential to their survival. What a dreadful trap.


One in particular matches perfectly with the type of change I’ve observed on my watch: the eradication of content from the classroom.


All efforts to create the illusion of academic content are acceptable so long as they are entertaining, and successful participation requires no real effort and no real accountability.


Remove your professor hat for a moment and students will speak frankly. They will tell you that they don’t read because they don’t have to. They can get an A without ever opening a book.


But don’t worry—you won’t go bust because of this failure, not in the modern university. So long as your class is popular and fun, you’ll be favoured by the administration and probably receive a teaching award. This, even though your students will leave your class in worse condition than they entered it, because you will have pandered to their basest inclinations while leaving their real intellectual and moral needs unmet.


There is no clearer example of administrators’ contempt for faculty. But there is also no clearer example of their contempt for students.


As money is siphoned from academic programs through attrition, it is channelled into a host of middle-management positions.


From 1979 to 2014, central administration and staff ballooned by three and a half times, while the size of the faculty merely doubled.


Parents, students, and governments keep supplying them with capital, assuming there will be a genuine return on investment. But since the institution no longer produces anything, no such return is forthcoming.


Spending on the student services sector in Canadian universities increased an incredible six-fold between 1979 and 2014.


The student services cabal is no longer there to support faculty in their work of educating students “but to compete with them to define the student experience.”

Insiders are quiet after they read this, because they know it's true.

The financial burden created by the higher education cartel is immense and expanding:

To mask the enormity of the sums squandered on "education" that has little measurable results, the federal government has purchased most of the debt:

No inflation here--just a 137% increase in 15 years:

A system that piles debt on students in exchange for a marginal or even zero-return on their investment is morally and financially bankrupt.

We can do better and must do better, which is the subject of my book The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy.

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Pairadimes's picture

Your federal government at work. Healthcare is the same, by the way.


Looney's picture

Speaking of “bankrupt”…

I regularly visit other countries’ “official” or “semi-official” web-sites and I noticed one very interesting thing – for the last 4-5 years, Russia has been occasionally revoking banking licenses from banks. The official mouthpieces don’t call it a “bankruptcy” or “going belly up”, but if you dig deeper and go to the bank’s web-site, it actually says that the bank has filed for bankruptcy protection.

When was the last time China, a European country, or the US “allowed” banks, big or small, to go tits up?

Just like with wildfires, Russia seems to allow “controlled burning” here and there to minimize the potential of a disastrous wildfire in its banking industry.

Smart, if you ask me…  ;-)


MillionDollarBonus_'s picture

Anti-science conservatives have always been against higher education. They reject the science of evolution, the science of climate change, the science of pharmaceutical wonder drugs, and the science of economics. The reject almost every advancement and progression in society, so it's no wonder they are so vehemently opposed to education as a whole.



Haus-Targaryen's picture

I am opposed to stupidity.  

Explain Sanders' supporters.   

Money Counterfeiter's picture
Money Counterfeiter (not verified) WordSmith2013 Mar 31, 2016 8:52 AM

So many useless people in education who would be without a livelihood without the government tit.  Like beating a dead horse.

WordSmith2013's picture

The author forgot academically bankrupt.

How about the legal education!

How The Lawyers Destroyed American Society


How The Hard Science PhDs Have Wrecked The World




DaveyJones's picture

As long as it's not chemically bankrupt

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

Spent 10 years in academia and never saw such a corrupt bunch of ignorant idiots before or since. The scam all hinges on the fact that a degree will supposedly get one a good job and professors are the best students around. Both assumptions are gross lies.

libertus's picture

The system is collapsing but others are starting to take their place. Transparency, lower costs and higher quality can be achieved though good old transparent markets that link teachers and students. Oplerno.com is one such group. 3 credit classes for between $500 and $1500. You choose your teacher and can actually vet the class before you take it.

I'm really sick and tired of students being exploited by tenured faculty and high paid administrators who supports themselves off of the backs of adjunct faculty who are making $2500 to teach 45 students or more. If it were not for the Feds subsidizing everything in higher education the system would collapse. 

Government needs you to pay taxes's picture

.Gov views education as too important a propaganda/programming tool to allow its disintermediation.  The answer (as if .gov were looking for that) is a hybrid between the Oxford/Cambridge method of learning (1 solo meeting 1x per week with a 'tutor' for which you have read 5+ books and written a 10+ page paper) and the Kahn learning system (expert, highly engaging internet-based tutor) combined with a local 'studyhall' staffed by someone competent.  Gotta continue the price inflation/currency-trashing game WHILST making .gov bigger.  So it will be 'free education for all', like Obamacare (and just as cost-effective). . .  Oh, and .gov cant leave the stupid/unmotivated niggers behind.  So they've gotta have gold-plated gyms and monstrous athletic budgets to keep that diversity flowing (all paid for by the white/asian tax-cucks).


Bumpo's picture

As long as Safe Spaces are provided, we will all be okay.

semperfi's picture

ah dude, you missed the point of the article - but why am I not surprised?  perhaps you need to go back to $chool and get boned-up on your reading comphrehension skills

mvsjcl's picture

Leave him be, Faithful. MDB's only doing his thing, which is to act as ZH's own master of sarcasm.

SixIsNinE's picture

MoneyBots took over MDB's account - that's why.


The Merovingian's picture

MDB .. you are seriously slipping. Your posts used to be entertaining and even at a time modestly thought provoking. Sadly, the yoke of your progressive liberal burden must be wearing you down. Take hope, my friend and just remember that whatever you create and whatever you earn doing it your heroes will always take at least half. So, you glass is always half full! /s

LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD's picture
LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD (not verified) The Merovingian Mar 31, 2016 9:32 AM

Aren't there "free" Obamacare drugs that MDB can take for her mental illness?

City_Of_Champyinz's picture

Blah blah blah another useless shill post for your website MDB.  Not even remotely humorous anymore.

More Ammo's picture

Yep, Educated idiots are a bit of a problem these days...

Texar1991's picture

Please tell us more about the advancements and progress in society!

Blistering Barnacles's picture

wont get caught by your over the top sarc this time!!


jus_lite_reading's picture

I said this years ago. If EVERYONE went out and got a college degree, then it would devalue all degrees. Eventually, a BS or MS will hold as much value as a GED! What's next? A PhD to sell used cars?

Yeah, no problem here folks. LMAO

Took Red Pill's picture

This article is nothing new. When I graduated college, I felt like I "bought" my degree. That was 30 years ago! College is a business. Even if they're "non-profit" it's still just about the $.

SWCroaker's picture

Exactly.  Capitalism is fundamentally the smarter allocation of capital amongst differentiated choices.  It cannot function when there is no differentiation.  In terms of education, giving everyone a degree as part of their entitled "rights" utterly destroys the employment marketplace's ability to discern who does and does not have skills.

Equal pay, No Child Left Behind etc sux.   The focus should be on a equal playing field, not equal outcomes.

jus_lite_reading's picture

But but but everyone is a winner! We all have the same IQ, the same SAT scores, the same genes, the same income, the same talents, the same physical abilities, the same SKIN COLOR! HA! Under Bernie's socialist utopia every man will own a castle.

August's picture

If you are the purchaser/consumer of a high-skill service (e.g. heart surgery), you damn well better hope that somewhere along the line 95% of the children were left behind.

Because 95% of the population just cannot do the job.

Libertati Aut Ad Mortem's picture
Libertati Aut Ad Mortem (not verified) Looney Mar 31, 2016 11:32 AM

Well they have had issues with the drop of oil and sanctions after they took back the Crimea from Ukrainians after giving it to them in 1952.

csmith's picture

ANYTHING government touches is "the same".

E.F. Mutton's picture

Indoctrination doesn't come cheap, you know. 

KesselRunin12Parsecs's picture
KesselRunin12Parsecs (not verified) E.F. Mutton Mar 31, 2016 8:35 AM

Debt Slavery for life to learn the Saul Alinsky doctrine = PRICELESS

101 years and counting's picture

the saddest....or the funniest part....they are voluntarily signing up to be a slave for the rest of their lives.

KesselRunin12Parsecs's picture
KesselRunin12Parsecs (not verified) 101 years and counting Mar 31, 2016 10:21 AM

They're signing up for the beer pong (but not reading the fine print)

SixIsNinE's picture

right - they're even enforcing the O'Doul's policy - only non-alcoholic beer @ pong events...

even Thumper gets the NearBeer

ebworthen's picture

Having worked at a dream factory for 15 years I can confirm the veracity of this report.

Dr. Spin's picture

I just engineered my dismissal from my teaching job at a liberal arts university.  Seems the Prez wasn't keen on being called a baboon and a pompous ass.  She really and truly came unhinged.  College administrators are scared shitless that their "safe place" will be the next soft target.  Metus est plena tyrannis. 

I'm free, I'm free,,,


BobPaulson's picture

Still work in one but find startup companies with students way more interesting.  A few of the key problems : students who fail can sue universities for bad teaching. Universities must not discriminate against stupid people. Universities get grants based on admissions (no rewards for student performance in unbiased tests). Universities take govt grants for "granted" so most effort directed at beta revenue  (research) which is corporate funded - so 99% of intellectual effort is research while teaching is done by contract scabs. Almost all the effort of top brass is focused on fund raising from alumni and rich donors.

Last of the Middle Class's picture

don't ever fucking write in cursive around those new graduates. You'll understand the meaning of "vaca". Propaganda is a much higher priority than critical thinking. That's it in a nutshell, or nutsack.  Whatever.

Groundhog Day's picture

was having a conversation with a woman complaining about her son who has a biology degree and a 100k in debt.  The jobs available are all entry level paying around 25-35k.  The idiot son wants to waste another 3 years in college, spend another 60-70k doing something else that will insure a starting salary of 80k - 100k.  Stupid

Sandmann's picture

What good is a Biology degree unless you want to teach in school ?

buzzsaw99's picture

wow this is like the first time he's ever written this screed. /SARCASM

NoDebt's picture

If you think it's expensive now, just wait until it's free.

two hoots's picture

"just wait until it's free."   That's when we all become proxy cosigners and responsible for others bad decisions.

DaveyJones's picture

I know

they said the same thing about Iraq

blakeist's picture

This is what happens when children are raised in public indoctrination centers. We're brainwashed from the jump that the only way to live a decent life is to go to college. The gov't already has a monopoly on the first 13 years of education (which has lead to declining academic standards across the board). Why would anyone vote for them to take over the next 2-4 years? mind boggling...

khakuda's picture

The problem has been clear for several decades now.  Increased financial aid and subsidies have allowed to schools to let costs spiral completely out of control.  It is another epic bubble of well meaning, but misguided progressives providing unlimited cheap capital to a sector.

Wasn't Elizabeth Warren making $300,000 a year for teaching like one or two classes at Harvard?  Over the past 30 years, the campuses have turned into country clubs with over the top gyms, student centers, housing, etc.

KesselRunin12Parsecs's picture
KesselRunin12Parsecs (not verified) khakuda Mar 31, 2016 8:36 AM

Yeah, but that $300,000 was paid in trinkets & fire water

Mr. Universe's picture

There's never any of those "special" blankets around when you need them.

SixIsNinE's picture

the local (Ft Collins CO) school district just informed parents that if they want their children in full kindergarten it will be $2,500 a year now.  (the state funds half/day - 70% parents sign up for the 3pm release)

that's on top of the housing bubble which is now listing 1100 sq. ft. bungalow over $400k.


Come on rest of USA, follow Colorado's lead and treat cannabis like wine & beer - this is causing a HUGE influx of people moving to Colorado that is definitely part of the reason -  people can go to the shop and choose their favorite cannabis product and at the same time choose from the best brews on the plane ...

http://maps.bpl.org/id/15442   - map of the world before NASA and their precursors started monkeying around ...

(hint: look @ USGS & United Nations logo maps - same)