Comparing More and Less Expensive US Universities

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by heirophant, Feb 13, 2018.

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  1. heirophant

    heirophant Member

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    Here's a very interesting article that compares 20 most affordable universities to 20 least affordable universities. They are all public universities and affordability is in terms highest and lowest non-resident tuition, since taxpayers often pick up part of the tab for in-state students. They include all of the Carnegie classifications from high-research Doctoral Universities, through the Masters Universities and Bachelors schools.

    http://dailycaller.com/2018/02/12/higher-education-scam-why-college-is-expensive/

    A simple observation is that the expensive schools spend more per-student than the less expensive ($51K vs $18K). We expected that.

    But where does that money go? What is it spent on? And does that translate to better classes, smaller class sizes and whatnot?

    Short answers: The increased per-student spending often goes to research. (All of the most expensive schools are doctoral research universities.) A lot of research expense is included in what these universities call 'instructional' expenses ("departmental research funds" as opposed to external funding and organized research units). The expensive schools may boast lower raw student/faculty ratios, but since research professors teach fewer classes, especially undergraduate classes, class sizes can be higher at the expensive schools.

    And inevitably the more expensive schools typically have prettier campuses and nicer facilities. (They compete on that and some of the flagship research campuses resemble resorts.)
     
  2. Stanislav

    Stanislav Active Member

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    Unstated assumption here is that money spent on research are somehow wasted. I disagree.
     
  3. FTFaculty

    FTFaculty Member

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    It certainly isn't all wasted, some research is legit and world-changing. Some research, however, the school's money would be better spent on a kegger party for the students.
     
  4. Stanislav

    Stanislav Active Member

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    Sure. However, in many cases, you can't know that in advance. There is no real way to "only spend money on world-changing research".
    In practice, research money is a way to gain prestige and to recruit a certain "caliber" of faculty. Both of those are expensive, yes, and uncertain, but not meaningless things. Universities can waste money on "executive compensation", "management consulting", and even "educational technology" with equal "efficiency".
     
  5. heirophant

    heirophant Member

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    Of course money spent on research isn't necessarily wasted.

    But it doesn't necessarily benefit the student (typically an undergraduate) who is paying higher tuition and fees at the more expensive university either.

    When Flagship State University tries to justify its higher tuition by boasting that it spends more than twice as much per student as Nowhere State College, that doesn't mean that the money spent per student ($ divided by enrollment) is actually being spent on students. (At least if they aren't doctoral students.) One probably shouldn't assume that the higher fees that an undergraduate pays at Flagship translates smoothly into better education.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  6. Stanislav

    Stanislav Active Member

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    Depends. An undergrad studying Arts&Sciences discipline for its own sake, for example, perhaps planning on grad school themselves? A research active department makes sense. Also, many students who are after "prestige" diploma ("prestige" in anything is not cheap, and also doesn't have perfect correlation with quality). Also, all of us right now using a browser derived from the UIUC research, on the network partly developed at Stanford and Berkeley.

    I don't believe myself that R1s are the only "proper" universities, or that they are necessarily superior. I adjunct at a college myself (here in Ontario they are not called "community", but the basic idea is the same - although they are meant to be more vocational and less transfer-oriented, by design, and recently started to offer "applied" Bachelor degrees); in grad school, I applied for, and got offers from, both CCs and a teaching-oriented regional branch of a university (U of Hawaii at Hilo, of all places). But for visa issues, I would still teach there. Nevertheless, a research university fills a very important niche.
     
  7. FTFaculty

    FTFaculty Member

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    I get it, of course, but some research is inane and that's pretty obvious from the outset. Agreed with the consulting fees, certain wasteful ed tech, and exorbitant senior administrator salaries (though football and basketball coach salaries are in a class all by themselves)
     
  8. Stanislav

    Stanislav Active Member

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    It may be obvious, but there's always a chance to make a mistake. Famously, in Stalin's Soviet Union genetics was considered "fake science", and it was "obvious" to just about everyone scientists studying fruit flies (Drosophila) are completely useless and just spread reactionary, idealistic, burgeous nonsense detrimental to the working masses. Electricity was a parlour trick for over 1000 years. Etc., etc., ad infinium, ad nauseam. There's no procedure you can use to just filter out junk science; scientific reputation is the only approximation.
     
  9. Stanislav

    Stanislav Active Member

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    Looked through the list. Impressively, University of Southern Florida and Florida International made it to the "cheapest" list, even though both are Research Doctoral. Go Florida! I have a friend with a PhD from USF in an engineering field; I also attended a volleyball game there (my sister played; her team beat UFS 3:0). Very, very decent schools; well done!
     
  10. FTFaculty

    FTFaculty Member

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    If an earnest, newly-minted millennial professor has an idea for studying the psychological effects of hip-hop music on mosquitos in the Florida Everglades and another professor has some promising research rolling for a cure for cancer, I guarantee you that parlor tricks and fruit flies notwithstanding, the research grant should go to cancer guy.

    We academics and aspiring academics can be such bores when we refuse to back down from an argument EVER. I guess it boils down to pride, and I have my fair and unfortunate share to be sure, as is evidenced by throwing my little contribution here into this farce. At least we're entertaining to others, in a trainwreck-ish way.
     
  11. Stanislav

    Stanislav Active Member

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    Let's just say we are both right.
     
  12. Johann

    Johann Active Member

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    True. Here, they're CAATs - Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology. British Columbia still uses the term "Community College" but not for all such institutions. There, both private and public colleges can be called Community Colleges - e.g Northwest Community College (public) and Metropolitan Community College (private).

    Happens a lot around here. Quite a few of us can say that - some pretty frequently. Heck, it beats the daylights out of daytime TV --- at least I think it does.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
  13. FTFaculty

    FTFaculty Member

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    Or both wrong. Ha ha! I just won't let it go, my ridiculous peacock pride prevents me from ever completely agreeing with you. You see, I have very much earned the right, as an academic, to be prideful, inasmuch as I think my department chair would definitely rank me in the top 20 for research output and impact in the School of Accountancy (of course, there are only 22 professors, and three of them are instructors who do no research).
     

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