The Worldwide Rankings

Oct 25 2014

While was are sitting around ranking our grad programs (awful) and Tuck (impressive), let's look at the international university rankings of the Ivy League schools:

The QS World University Rankings has the College buried far behind the other Ivies:

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Same thing for the Times Higher Education World Rankings:

Times World Ranking 2014.jpg

Would you choose UC Riverside over Dartmouth? Maybe if we built a graduate student center?

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Double, Double, Loans Are Big Trouble

Oct 24 2014

One of the reasons that the cost of college tuition has been able to rise far more quickly than any other sector of the economy has been the federal government's easy lending policies (sounds like the real estate market a few years ago, right?). Look at how fast education loans have grown over the past decade: there is over five times as much outstanding student debt today as there was in 2003 -- well over a trillion dollars:

Student Loans.jpg

During the same time period, while Americans have learned to better manage credit card debt and auto loans, default rates on student debt have continued to climb:

Student Loans A.jpg

A study by the Pew Research Center shows that half the families in the top quartile of earnings are now taking out loans, up from only 24% two decades ago:

Student Loans B.jpg

Everyone -- rich and poor alike -- seems to be going into hock to pay for education at bloated, poorly managed institutions. At a certain point, the loan binge is going to stop: default rates will grow too large; interest rates will rise; or the feds will decide that they can't keep lending ever increasing amounts of money. The train wreck that occurs at that moment will be ugly.

Addendum: The present state of affairs reminds me of one of my favorite jokes: Two mountain climbers are high up on the face of an immense cliff. The first one slips, falls, and plummets downwards. The second one waits, and then shouts, "Are you ok?" And the first one answers, "I'm fine, but I'm still falling."

Addendum: Research by Assistant Professor of Sociology Jason Houle, indicates that home buying by university graduates does not seem to be impeded by education loans, but one has to wonder if that observation will be true in the coming decade, following the recent, five-fold, ramping up of student debt loads.

Addendum: A reader notes:

You need to pull the for-profit colleges from your student debt analysis -- unless you believe most of them are anything except rip offs -- and Wall Street creations. They represent 25% of loans, 10-13% of students and 47% of all defaults, with explosive enrollment increases. See: http://forprofitu.org/fact-sheet/

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Poor, Poor Carol

Oct 23 2014

"The fake classes thrived for so long because it was hard for people to fathom that they could even exist." Carol Folt, UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor.

"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." Yoggi Berra, Professor of Philosophy.

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Now I get it. While more than 3,000 UNC students took "paper classes" that never met and required only one term-end paper, which was cursorily awarded an A or B grade by an administrator (as needed for GPA purposes) in order that, for the most part, money sport athletes could maintain their eligibility, Carol believes that nobody realized what was happening.

An NCAA invesrtigation, re-opened this past June, is still ongoing.

In light of Jim Kim's current problems, people must be wondering just what kind of management farm team Dartmouth is running.

Addendum: Former federal prosecutor and FBI counsel Kenneth Wainstein's full report is here, and the Chronicle of Higher Education has devoted most of today's issue to the last twenty years' academic corruption at UNC. The story was reported on by the NYT, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, ESPN, the New York Post, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, the Raleigh News & Observer, and pretty much everyone else.

How sad that a school gets such a drubbing in the press.

Addendum: Lest anyone harbor any doubts about the egregiousness of the fraud perpetrated by UNC, the below note by the estimable Raleigh's News & Observer details how grades were awarded

Crowder admitted she did not read the papers beyond the openings and conclusions. Students quickly learned they could get away with submitting papers that had "fluff" in the middle so long as the openings and conclusions were original. The investigation found that of 150 papers written by students, well over half contained plagiarized passages that accounted for at least 25 percent of each paper's content.

Wainstein's investigation also found two other methods for placing students - predominantly athletes - into paper classes. At least five classes actually met, but Crowder and Nyang'oro allowed some students to take the class as a paper class. In a "handful" of other cases, Crowder added student athletes, who would turn in a paper to her, to grade rolls without a professor's knowledge.

Addendum: The fraudulent events under discussion occurred prior to Folt's arrival at Carolina, but we can see that her response is typical of methods used at Dartmouth:

After the meeting, Chancellor Carol Folt will spend much of the day reaching out to the university community...

Aiding her is a high-powered public relations firm, Edelman, a Washington, D.C., group that has at least 14 people working to getting out the university's message.

Spokesman Joel Curran said the firm began helping the university improve its communications in May. He couldn't immediately say how much they are being paid.

The College employed the Edelman firm during the various petition Trustee races a few years ago.

Addendum: The Chronicle of Higher Education notes three prominent questions left outstanding by the Wainstein report:

1. Why are the most damning revelations coming out only now?
2. Did administrators turn a blind eye?
3. What will the NCAA do?

Forbes asks if the report was a whitewash:

Rather than the Wainstein report being the final word on UNC academic fraud -- a result that the school's beleaguered Chancellor, Carol Folt, would surely welcome -- it, instead, should be the starting point for a merciless third-party review. Such an investigation would hopefully not sugar-coat its findings under the Pablum that infects the Wainstein report, which white-washes the "higher levels of the University" on the grounds that they had "insufficient appreciation of the scale of the problem."

Here's a possible alternate narrative: UNC did not want to know the scale of the problem because there was too much money at stake from its hugely profitable sports programs. Moreover, a deeper dive might reveal Paterno-esque culpability by the school's sacrosanct coaching legends. Such a revelation would not only eviscerate UNC's brand value in the eyes of donors and recruits, but it might also net Penn-State-level sanctions, including the voiding of UNC's men's national championships from 1993, 2005 and 2009.

I do not know if UNC had input into the wording of the Wainstein report. Moreover, I do not know what UNC paid Mr. Wainstein, Edelson PR -- whom UNC archrival Duke also deployed during its lacrosse team rape scandal -- or Professor Nyang'oro (whom, logic suggests, must have received something extra for the 300 independent study courses he "taught" every year).

What I do know is that a truly independent inquiry would reveal the unvarnished truth, right down to naming all the "students" who benefited from what Gerald Gurney, president of the Drake Group -- which seeks to protect higher education "from the corrosive aspects of commercialized college sports" -- dubbed "the largest and most nefarious scandal in the history of NCAA enforcement."

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