Book says many U.S. universities are waste of money

Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:04pm EDT
 
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By Mark Egan

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Spending as much as $250,000 on a bachelors degree from world-renowned U.S. universities such as Harvard University and Yale is a waste of money, a new book asserts.

"Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money And Failing Our Kids - And What We Can Do About It," urges parents and students to consider colleges that spend on teaching instead of sports and which encourage faculty to interact with students instead of doing research, taking sabbaticals and sitting on campus committees.

"Undergraduates are being neglected," author Andrew Hacker, who co-wrote the book with Claudia Dreifus, told Reuters in an interview.

"Higher education has become the preserve of professors ... (who) really have lost contact with the main purpose of higher education, which is the education of students."

Hacker and Dreifus are critical of many U.S. universities, noting the cost of a 4-year degree has doubled in real dollars compared to a generation ago. But education, they say, has not become twice as good as many colleges lost their focus.

Many Ivy League professors don't teach undergraduates at all and at many colleges teaching is largely farmed out to low-cost adjunct teachers, Hacker said.

And, he said, many undergraduate degrees are vocational -- from resort management to fashion merchandising -- and vast sums of money have been spent on deluxe dining and dorm facilities and state-of-the-art sports centers. As the number of administrative staff has risen, he said, $1 million annual salaries for college presidents have become common place.

"Bachelor's level vocational education is, I don't want to say a fraud, but close to it," Hacker said.   Continued...

 
<p>Political science major Paul Fabsik wears a price tag hanging from his mortarboard estimating the cost of his education, May 24 during commencement ceremonies at Boston College in Newton, Masachusetts. REUTERS/Brian Snyder</p>