The Very Model of a Modern University President

While American higher education often is rightly condemned for being inefficient, non-innovative, and resistant to change, there are exceptions, and there are some collegiate entrepreneurs whose success is worthy of commendation and emulation. To me, the top award for American higher education innovation must go to Mitch Daniels, who is just beginning his tenth year … Continue reading “The Very Model of a Modern University President”


Did You Know? How North Carolina’s Institutions Rank Among the Nation’s Top Colleges

How do North Carolina’s colleges rank amongst the nation’s top colleges? Do going to these schools make a big difference in earnings after graduation? Using both Forbes and the Wall Street Journal rankings of the top American schools, four schools in North Carolina are ranked in the top 100. Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, Davidson, and Wake … Continue reading “Did You Know? How North Carolina’s Institutions Rank Among the Nation’s Top Colleges”


Did You Know? The Higher Education Profile of North Carolina Business Leaders

Is having a college degree a critical dimension in becoming a business leader for those running North Carolina’s largest corporations? We have analyzed that question as part of a broader study of the relationship between higher education and corporate leadership in the United States, work currently being undertaken for the James G. Martin Center. Specifically, … Continue reading “Did You Know? The Higher Education Profile of North Carolina Business Leaders”


The Edifice Complex Is a Threat to University Budgets

According to one recent estimate, American colleges in the last few years, in a period of extraordinary enrollment decline, have added 70 million square feet of new instruction and research facilities on their campuses. That is more space than in 10 Pentagons, the largest office facility in the U.S. Yet enrollments for fall 2020 had … Continue reading “The Edifice Complex Is a Threat to University Budgets”


Eliminate or Radically Restructure Federal Student Loans

A recent defense of student loans by Jason Delisle of the American Enterprise Institute is, uncharacteristically for him, off-base. He defends the federal student loan program, which he correctly notes is criticized by those on the left (“college should be free”) as well as on the right (“student loan programs have raised the price of … Continue reading “Eliminate or Radically Restructure Federal Student Loans”


American Higher Education: Beset with Problems, but Solutions Exist

Editor’s note: This is an abridged transcript of a speech Richard Vedder gave at a Martin Center luncheon on January 30, 2020. I will concentrate today on the economics of higher education—why it is so costly, and a few things we can do about it. When I entered Northwestern University over six decades ago, the … Continue reading “American Higher Education: Beset with Problems, but Solutions Exist”


New Research Shows Federal Student Aid Is Worse than We Thought

For years I have railed against the dysfunctional federal student loan program. The availability of cheap federal student loans has enabled universities to increase tuition fees aggressively, helping fund an unproductive academic arms race that, among other things, has led to sizable administrative bloat on most campuses. The proportion of recent college graduates from the … Continue reading “New Research Shows Federal Student Aid Is Worse than We Thought”


‘Free College:’ A Better Approach

Two facts about colleges stand out. First, they are largely (some argue almost entirely) a “private” good; that is to say, the benefits from college attendance accrue mainly to the student, not to society at large. For example, the Census Bureau tells us the typical male adult college graduate made about $30,000 a year more … Continue reading “‘Free College:’ A Better Approach”


Answering the Perennial Question: Why Does College Cost So Much?

Last month, Amanda Ripley, writing for The Atlantic, asked a good question: why does higher education in the United States cost significantly more than in every other OECD nation except Luxembourg? Related to that: Why have college costs risen sharply over time? Unfortunately, while the questions Ripley raises are compellingly important, the answers she provided … Continue reading “Answering the Perennial Question: Why Does College Cost So Much?”


Mitch Daniels Has the Right Stuff for Purdue

Higher education does not produce many flashy, innovating entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Peter Thiel, or Elon Musk. The non-profit, highly subsidized, and low-incentive culture that universities operate in promotes conformity and risk avoidance. Despite that, there are some college leaders who stand out from the rest. Paul LeBlanc, for example, has taken Southern … Continue reading “Mitch Daniels Has the Right Stuff for Purdue”