A Simpler Model for Funding Higher Ed

Funding Higher EdEverything you really need to know about higher ed funding. Don’t tell me we don’t have the money. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to defense spending. There’s no reason we can’t divert a few of those drops away from unnecessary wars fought only for the profits of defense contractors, especially when these contractors spend more on lobbying than they do in paying taxes and keep their personal income overseas.

I grabbed the meme from Facebook.

Published by James Rovira

Dr. James Rovira is higher education professional with twenty years experience in the field in teaching, administration, and advising roles. He is also an interdisciplinary scholar and writer whose works include fiction, poetry, and scholarship exploring the intersections of literature and philosophy, literature and psychology, literary theory, and music and literature.. His books include Women in Rock, Women in Romanticism (Routledge, 2023); David Bowie and Romanticism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022); Writing for College and Beyond (a first-year composition textbook (Lulu 2019)); Reading as Democracy in Crisis: Interpretation, Theory, History (Lexington Books 2019); Rock and Romanticism: Blake, Wordsworth, and Rock from Dylan to U2 (Lexington Books, 2018); Rock and Romanticism: Post-Punk, Goth, and Metal as Dark Romanticisms (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018); and Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety (Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2010). See his website at jamesrovira.com for details.

16 thoughts on “A Simpler Model for Funding Higher Ed

  1. Any course that runs by itself, without an instructor directly interacting with students, will have all of the problems that I describe. I’ve been teaching online for six years now, but the classes I teach are limited to 25 students and I directly engage the class multiple times a week. An occasional online course as part of a degree program in a traditional university is no problem at all, but that is not at all the model that you’ve been proposing. Fully online programs of study, especially those from fully online colleges and universities, are not at all taken seriously by employers in general, and they aren’t taken as seriously by students either. That’s been reported in the Chronicle within the last year. I’m not sure where you’re getting your information.

    And no, it’s not true that there are only 200-300 quality higher educational institutions in the United States. That’s a ridiculous claim that you can’t support, and DOE numbers suggest otherwise anyway. There are many very, very good community colleges out there. There are many good tier 2 public universities. There are many good small private non-profit colleges. Most people in the US, especially those in major population centers, do have access to a decent college or university.


    1. James
      I understand now that you are an online instructor, teacher or professor for the last years like others for the last 20 years .
      Now you worry that you will lose your job when perfect online programs , credits and degrees from elite, top, reputable, non profit universities start.
      I have to say that you are right . And I stop .


      1. Muvaffak — that argument is a logical fallacy called “ad hominem, circumstantial.” You’re attempting to discount the facts I’m presenting that are well supported by data (e.g. MOOCs and online, self running classes just don’t work well for most students, especially at the undergraduate level) by trying to comment on my motives for drawing attention to the facts.

        But those are still the facts, Muvaffak. I could accuse the other side of self interest as well, and very easily, and then what would we have? We’d still have to look at the facts surrounding MOOCs and other self-running courses, and they’re not pretty. They fail to educate average or remedial students at the undergrad level on a massive scale.

        And you’ve said yourself that you thought the technology may need 100-300 years to fully develop. That’s not in my lifetime. I have nothing to worry about. And we still need to educate students in the present.

        I care too much about people to let them be ripped off like this, and to see my country get run into the ground by squandering its intellectual capital.


  2. Are you talking of funding the HE in the USA or if online is good .

    You stated all misconnected concepts . Your most knowledge regarding quality education and online education is also false .
    I cannot comment on each one by one .

    Thanks billion you have given me the opportunity to defend my cases and thesis .
    You are great .

    I did not say I like MOOCs . But you critisize MOOCs . You are right , they are hopeless.

    EDX is different than MOOCs. Did you ever take only one course .
    Please do. And see how good they are . They are not just video streams . Please register and see one .

    You do not know that 1,300 colleges are providing online courses and degrees at $ 1,500 per course for the last 20 years. There are now 7.5 million students out of 20 million total taking at least one online course in fall 2012. Probably more now .
    Do you say there are 7.5 million dumb students taking online for credits and degrees too . ( In fact I will say you are right ) Those colleges are the greatest problem of the USA .

    We , employers , do not hire those degree holders, but we started hiring people with EDX certificates holders.

    You should know that
    In education quality of knowledge is important . ( Only 200-300 top universities have QUALITY ) Rest is marketed to people by marketers saying that college graduates make more Money. Unfortunately Federal Loans are guilty of that too .
    Since there were loans marketers worked harder to get that Money . Obama is trying to rank colleges now for loans giving .

    Online is just a tool to disseminate that first class, top knowledge .
    Now it is our opportunity to disseminate this wonderful top quality education at a small cost with the tool called online .
    Today elite reputable universities with top quality are disseminating their knowledge at a small fee ( for time being free )

    Please forget MOOCs + online provided during last 20 years by unknown colleges .
    Promote edx set up by Harvard and MIT and now consisting about 30 members universities . It is salvation .


  3. But for profits are the ones following your exact model: get rid of teachers, go fully online, try to use MOOCs for credit, etc. They’re proof that model doesn’t work, while the “traditional” public institutions are doing a very good job: lowest dropout rates and lowest student loan default rates.

    So following your logic, I agree — let’s put our money where the best work is being done, and that would be public colleges and universities.


    1. James
      Probably you noticed that I do not defend MOOCs, that is to me Coursera WHO claimed that they are a commercial company for profit. They said that not me . Therefore I do not defend them at all.

      But EDX set up by non profit MIT and Harvard is different . I defend them with all my heart. If they provide credits and degrees whole HE will be solved .

      That is
      1.- Everyone in the USA AND İN THE WORLD will get a high quality education
      Nobody can question the quality of MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Caltech, and other members selected by edx administration . They have quality for 100-350 years proven .

      2.- At a small fee of may be $ 100-200 per course. Everybody can afford .

      3.- They are non profits they are not after Money. But believe me they will make billion $ excess cash ( not profit ) since their cost will be less than $ 1 per course per person in spite of the fact that development and 5 years recurring cost of one course is around $ 1,000,000 . But do not worry they will collect also $ 1,000,000 in 10 semesters if they charge only $100 per course if only 1,000 students per semester took the course
      10 semesters x 1,000 students x $ 100 = $ 1,000,000 That simple .

      The problem is if edx does that they will disrupt whole HE in the USA.
      at least 4,000 colleges will be closed say in 10 years or less,
      worse is 2 million teachers and administrative staff in these colleges will be jobless.
      They do not make it public but they are very considerate .

      ( Would you go to even a normal good college at $ 1,000 per course f2f or
      go to MIT and similars at $ 100 per course ONLINE .
      Which one employers would hire .???? )

      I am concerned also for these 2 million joblessness . A solution must be found .

      Last words :
      Money must be spent efficiently in every Project including education .
      Education cannot be for profit.
      Best Project with optimum solution must be found . For time being that is edx only .
      I hope tomorrow there will be many similar efficient high quality solutions.
      Quality in education can be achieved in 100-350 years of hard work not overnight .
      Then people do not question quality at all .


      1. I think we disagree about how “quality” works in higher ed., Muffavak.

        The quality of a course is, yes, partly a function of the instructors designing the course, so a MOOC created by Harvard and MIT professors would probably be a good MOOC.

        At least it would be if everyone in the world was a Harvard or MIT student. These professors are used to teaching the best students in the world attending some of the most selective institutions. But we’re talking less than 5% of American students. The average American student, as demonstrated by numerous studies, doesn’t do as well in fully online, self-guided environments, and remedial students fail miserably, as was demonstrated by experiments with online ed. for remedial students at San Jose State University and Ivy Bridge College.

        Delivery of content is also not all that there is to teaching. Students have to be meaningfully assessed, and the most meaningful assessments are writing assignments, not multiple choice quizzes. There are no truly meaningful assessments in MOOCs of any kind.

        Basically, taking a MOOC is like reading a book with a video tutorial. It’s self-education. Taking a MOOC designed by a professor at MIT doesn’t mean you’ve been educated by that professor — it just means you’ve done the work equivalent to reading a book by that professor, but no one really knows how much of that book you really understood, and you certainly didn’t get a chance to have your work actively assessed (with a few exceptions that are native to computer environments, such as programming MOOCs). No one takes that seriously, and certainly not employers — many surveys have indicated that neither students nor employers take online courses as seriously as seated courses.

        No, EdX will not save the educational world. If we’re ever dumb enough to accept those courses for college credit, it’ll just save a few people money at everyone else’s expense.


  4. James I forgot one point .
    You say
    ” employability of the college graduates is not a function of the the quality of higher education ”

    You are right
    A graduate of an unknown college and graduate of MIT has the same chance of finding a job . !!!!!!!!!!!

    I wonder your logic but still I respect your thoughts a lot since they are so radical and against my ideas .


    1. That phrase is pretty weird, M, because I enclose it in quotation marks and use it to modify “category.” The entire phrase in quotation marks is the object of the preposition “of,” so I see it functioning as a noun.

      I failed to respond to your MIT comment. No, I wouldn’t say that graduates of Unknown U have the same chance of getting jobs as graduates of MIT, but there is research on this, and it turns out that the TYPE of degree is actually more important than the name brand of the college for getting a job.

      We might want to consider that graduates of Unknown U are spread out all over the country, while the very top schools are only in a few locations, mostly in the northeast and the west coast, with a few others scattered about here and there. So most job seekers actually aren’t competing with MIT grads (or Ivies or one of the top 50) for jobs most of the time.


  5. One finances only good projects .

    If you have a good Project Money can be found , no problem .

    Money can be found for HE in the USA as well as you said .

    But is it good to finance bad Projects .
    I claim at least 50 % of the 5000 HE schools in the USA is not worthwhile to attend at all .
    25,000,000 BA holders have graduated from these schools and they hold jobs a high school graduate can do .( ThaT İS OUT OF 41,600,000 BA HOLDERS, 60 % )
    That means they should not be going to college in the first place.
    But Federal loans made them to go to college with the hope they can have better jobs .
    They have been deceived by marketers of colleges .

    So finance is no problem for HE in the USA.
    It is wisdom .

    Solution is online degree programs by elite universities such as EDX set up by MIT and Harvard . Convince edx to provide degrees too . That simple :
    That is wisdom .


    1. Muvaffak —

      I’m sorry, but you’re really not demonstrating wisdom in your responses to me. The employability of college graduates is not a function of the quality of higher education, but a function of the job market. If every single college graduate were optimally educated, that by itself would not create more jobs, so about the same percentage of them would still be working jobs that require only a high school education.

      The category of “jobs that require a only a high school education” is misleading as well: people with bachelor’s degrees are getting these jobs at the expense of those with only high school diplomas, so now these jobs actually do require a bachelor’s degree. That’s unfortunate, but that too is a function of the job market. The availability of those with bachelor’s degrees is displacing those with only high school diplomas, which does in fact reveal that employers still value those with a college education, by and large, over those without.

      As I’ve demonstrated in other posts, college marketers (at least for public universities) are not responsible for the massive increase in student loan debt. That is the function of rising tuition costs caused by government cutbacks. As I said in an earlier post, just six years ago the State of California covered 88% of UCLA’s operating expense. Now it’s only covering 14%. That is why CA residents are now paying for college with student loans — and they’re STILL paying the same, or more, in taxes, so they’ve essentially had their own tax money taken away from them… for what? What exactly are they getting for their tax dollars? Ten year road projects as repayment for campaign contributions?

      No one has the right to call higher ed in the US a failure when it’s been massively defunded for the sake of protecting the profits of defense contractors. And the fact is, it’s not a failure. “Traditional” models of higher education are directly or indirectly responsible for almost every human advancement since the 1400s. There are no great inventions or patents held by those who have only been educated online or by MOOCs. There have been very capable people who have created things without a college degree, but they received what education they had from people with “traditional” college degrees, or they learned on their own by reading books… written by people with “traditional” college degrees. There have been many great inventions come out of the private sector, but those private sector employees almost all had “traditional” college degrees or learned what they did from people with them.

      “Traditional” higher ed is not a failure. The people who invented the computer, the internet, online classes, and MOOCs almost all had “traditional” college degrees. There’s no getting away from this.

      You are free to think this is a good situation, but I’m afraid I’m not that big a tool, and I love my country too much to watch this happen to it without saying anything.


      1. James Rovira
        It is always a pleasure to discuss with you .
        You are too radical I am too .
        You haVE 20,000 followers around the World including me .

        1.- ” jobs that require a ( spelling error ) only a high school education is misleading as well ”
        That is the statement made by Labor Department not me . I do not mind your spelling error at all I do a lot too .

        2.- ” People with BA degrees are getting these jobs at the expense of those with only high schools graduates , so now these jobs actually do require a bachelor’s degree ”

        So BA holders without qualifications do 2 harms
        1.- To existing high schools graduates
        2.- To themselves too accepting low class employment .

        3.- You say
        ” HE in the US has been massively defunded for the sake of protecting the profits of the defense contractors. ”
        That is very dangerous statements James. Those contractors may sue you.

        4.- You also say
        ” you are free to think this is a good situation ”

        No whaTSOEVER. On the contrary I am so sorry to see that
        I warn you and DOE and people that trend for HE is not good it is going down.

        Something must be done .
        2 big reasons are
        1.- Tuitions are high parents cannot afford
        2.- Quality of colleges are not good, graduates cannot find jobs since they do not have necessary skills to find good jobs .

        These are my observations .

        I also propose the solution .
        ONLINE with degrees by elite reputable universities .
        That is the solution.
        That is the wisdom . Does not require any Money but just wisdom .

        This is my view. Sure you may be against it . No harm .
        You say
        ” colleges must be funded by states and Federal Government but they spend Money to defense contractors . ”

        You have to prove that .

        It is really great enjoyment to discuss with you. If we can solve the problems I would be very happy . Probably you too .


      2. Alright, alright, I still like you… ha.

        1. Okay, it’s making me crazy: where’s the spelling error? Yes, though, you’re right, that is Labor Dept. language and stats, and I agree with them. But I want us to think about what we’re being told by the Labor Dept. and what it means about the job market today. The Labor Dept. also tells us that people with only a HS education, for the most part (there are exceptions), make significantly less money than people with college degrees.

        2. That’s very silly. BA holders may or may not have qualifications, but most do. The market is doing harm. They are just accepting whatever employment they can get. No one should be blamed for that.

        3. Ha — I’m too poor and insignificant to sue.

        4. Here is where you lose me, and frankly, where you sound to me like you’re losing your mind. It’s the fully online, for profit colleges that are producing the worst graduates with the lowest employability and the highest student loan default rates. From the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

        “Using existing federal three-year cohort-default rate data for 2010, the authors define the bottom 5 percent as colleges from which 28 percent of graduates default on their loans within three years. Among those institutions, 66 percent were for-profit, 30 percent were private nonprofit, and 4 percent public.”

        ” The report singles out “Dropout Factories,” or four-year colleges that graduate 15 percent or fewer of their freshmen in six years as of 2011, the benchmark year of federal data used. Among the institutions in that category, 56 percent were for-profit institutions, 32 percent private nonprofit, and 11 percent public.”


        Public non-profit institutions produce the most successful graduates even though they are being defunded, while the colleges that fit the model that you advocate produce the least successful graduates. What you’re doing is arguing in support of defunding and recommending models that support defunding. That seems backwards to me.


      3. James
        I am not a native English speaker.
        Please read your sentence .

        ” .. jobs that require a only a high school education …. ”

        I do not comment any more.

        Thanks billion for taking your time to comment me .


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