Title

The Education Bubble: Federal Tertiary Education Policy and the Myth of Accessibility

Presenter Information

Jesse Hegstrom Oakey

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Room 301

Start Date

15-5-2014

End Date

15-5-2014

Keywords

Higher Education, Politics, Economics

Abstract

About 40 years ago, shifts in federal higher education policy created new student aid programs for university students, the impetus for this new policy being an increase in accessibility for undergraduate attendees. Concurrent with these changes arose unintended consequences, including significant rises in university tuition, and ever-increasing student reliance on federal loans to fund their educations, a dumbing-down of academic standards, and the adoption of a business model on the part of many universities to insure continued operation. Out of these concerns comes a body of work known to economists and higher education researchers as the “Education Bubble”, which draws a comparison between the current higher education system and other financial bubbles, arguing for an eventual bursting of the bubble. In its current form the system is the epitome of a self-perpetuating problem; likely projections for the future indicate only an exacerbation of the issue. Missing from the discussion are the degree’s value to debt-burdened graduates in today’s economy, and the overall effects that the shifts in the education system have had on graduates, and on the American political sphere. Using political and economic theory this presentation explores the current system of government aid for education, the problem it represents for students and the American public, possible solutions, and the difficulties of their implementation. It also offers a critique of the concept of accessibility as it is currently implemented, arguing that it does not increase the number of educated Americans long-term, and is thus the antithesis of its goal.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Cubilié, Anne; Manweller, Matt

Additional Mentoring Department

Douglas Honors College

Additional Mentoring Department

Associate Dean of Student Achievement

Additional Mentoring Department

Political Science

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May 15th, 3:40 PM May 15th, 4:00 PM

The Education Bubble: Federal Tertiary Education Policy and the Myth of Accessibility

SURC Room 301

About 40 years ago, shifts in federal higher education policy created new student aid programs for university students, the impetus for this new policy being an increase in accessibility for undergraduate attendees. Concurrent with these changes arose unintended consequences, including significant rises in university tuition, and ever-increasing student reliance on federal loans to fund their educations, a dumbing-down of academic standards, and the adoption of a business model on the part of many universities to insure continued operation. Out of these concerns comes a body of work known to economists and higher education researchers as the “Education Bubble”, which draws a comparison between the current higher education system and other financial bubbles, arguing for an eventual bursting of the bubble. In its current form the system is the epitome of a self-perpetuating problem; likely projections for the future indicate only an exacerbation of the issue. Missing from the discussion are the degree’s value to debt-burdened graduates in today’s economy, and the overall effects that the shifts in the education system have had on graduates, and on the American political sphere. Using political and economic theory this presentation explores the current system of government aid for education, the problem it represents for students and the American public, possible solutions, and the difficulties of their implementation. It also offers a critique of the concept of accessibility as it is currently implemented, arguing that it does not increase the number of educated Americans long-term, and is thus the antithesis of its goal.