If current trends continue, the Department of Education estimates that by 2014 there will be more administrators than instructors at American four-year nonprofit colleges.
I don’t agree with the entirety of the analysis, which I think makes too much out of the details of student loan financing and does too much bending over backwards to avoid offending the sensibilities of college professors and wannabe professors, but this is dead on:
These expensive projects are all part of another cycle: corporate universities must be competitive in recruiting students who may become rich alumni, so they have to spend on attractive extras, which means they need more revenue, so they need more students paying higher tuition. For-profits aren’t the only ones consumed with selling product.
Something to note is that to a large extent this is something that we have the ability to change as a society. A lot of the dysfunction is driven by donor dynamics, and donor dynamics are driven by the fact that donating money to a highly ranked college is considered a praiseworthy thing to do. That sets off the destructive rankings-driven quality-indifferent cycle of competition that we’re stuck with. We can, however, stop doing this. We can choose to consideration donations to highly ranked universities to be pointless at best and pernicious at worst. We can choose to conserve our valorization for people who do something else with their charitable giving.