Education dystopia #4: the bubble bursts

by VanessaVaile

Bryan Alexander

What are some bad futures for teaching, learning, and campuses? With this post I’m continuing my series of educational dystopias.

4. The Bubble Bursts

This dystopia is more focused on higher education than the previous ones.  It’s about a perfect storm striking colleges and universities, one which forces these institutions into a downhill slide.  Call it “peak higher education”.

To begin with, the demographic problem of declining K-12 population saps enrollment in traditional-age undergraduate populations, hitting hard at tuition-dependent institutions.  Most campuses continue to raise their published tuition in response, driving away debt-panicked learners.  Said campuses also lack the flexibility to respond to this challenge, since so many expenses are in the form of sunk costs: tenured faculty, extant buildings and grounds, staff mandated by regulations.  On top of these problems, American state governments continue their practice of reducing funding for public colleges and universities.

Meanwhile, educational alternatives are on the rise…

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