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Leading scholar on higher ed’s wasteful spending should be Betsy DeVos’s deputy

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos needs a deputy who can tackle endemic higher-education problems “such as excessive costs, lack of intellectual diversity, faltering academic quality, federal overregulation, and threats to free speech and due process,” according to the Martin Center’s Jane Shaw.

That person should be Richard Vedder, an emeritus economics professor at Ohio State who is not only an expert in the waste that plagues higher ed, but also “a genial provocateur who will stand up against political correctness,” Shaw writes:

His 2004 book, Going Broke by Degree, was prescient; it was the start of a wave of trade books undermining the assumption that all is well in our colleges and universities.

Soon, he was appointed to the Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education, which issued a report in 2006 that severely criticized higher education. … It cited “a lack of clear, reliable information about the cost and quality of postsecondary institutions” and found a “remarkable absence of accountability mechanisms.” Its message was tough enough to win opposition from both the university establishment and the Left.

Vedder’s Center for College Affordability and Productivity is a gold mine of valuable research on what works in higher ed, she says. He designed a new college ranking system for Forbes intended to “counter the ‘input-oriented’ metrics of the famed U.S. News & World Report college rankings”:

So, for example, instead of measuring how much faculty are paid or the school’s reputation (as U.S. News does), Vedder ranks schools on outcomes such as graduation rates and alumni success as well as the debt their graduates have to carry.

He tells inconvenient truths with empirical research, such as that states that spend more on state universities have lower rates of economic growth, Shaw says.

Vedder has also blamed low college graduation rates partly on the fact that “we push lots of students to go to college who have little prospect for success.”

Read the article.

h/t George Leef

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