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American Higher Education in Transition

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  • Ronald G. Ehrenberg

Abstract

American higher education is in transition along many dimensions: tuition levels, faculty composition, expenditure allocation, pedagogy, technology, and more. During the last three decades, at private four-year academic institutions, undergraduate tuition levels increased each year on average by 3.5 percent more than the rate of inflation; the comparable increases for public four-year and public two-year institutions were 5.1 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively. Academic institutions have also changed how they allocate their resources. The percentage of faculty nationwide that is full-time has declined, and the vast majority of part-time faculty members do not have Ph.D.s. The share of institutional expenditures going to faculty salaries and benefits in both public and private institutions has fallen relative to the share going to nonfaculty uses like student services, academic support, and institutional support. There are changing modes of instruction, together with different uses of technology, as institutions reexamine the prevailing "lecture/discussion" format. A number of schools are charging differential tuition across students. This paper discusses these various changes, how they are distributed across higher education sectors, and their implications. I conclude with some speculations about the future of American education.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 26 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
Pages: 193-216

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:26:y:2012:i:1:p:193-216

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.26.1.193
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  1. Stacy Berg Dale & Alan B. Krueger, 2002. "Estimating The Payoff To Attending A More Selective College: An Application Of Selection On Observables And Unobservables," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1491-1527, November.
  2. Stacy Dale & Alan B. Krueger, 2011. "Estimating the Return to College Selectivity Over the Career Using Administrative Earning Data," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 6922, Mathematica Policy Research.
  3. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-84, December.
  4. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Paul J. Pieper & Rachel A. Willis, 1998. "Do Economics Departments With Lower Tenure Probabilities Pay Higher Faculty Salaries?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(4), pages 503-512, November.
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Cited by:
  1. John Bailey Jones & Fang Yang, 2012. "Skill-Biased Technical Change and the Cost of Higher Education," Discussion Papers 12-08, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  2. Paula Stephan, 2014. "The Endless Frontier: Reaping What Bush Sowed?," NBER Chapters, in: The Changing Frontier: Rethinking Science and Innovation Policy National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. William Shobe & John L. Knapp, 2007. "The Economic Impact of the University of Virginia: How a Major Research University Affects the Local and State Economies," Reports 2007-01, Center for Economic and Policy Studies.
  4. David N. Figlio & Morton O. Schapiro & Kevin B. Soter, 2013. "Are Tenure Track Professors Better Teachers?," NBER Working Papers 19406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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