The recently passed House bill taxes the value of tuition discounts offered by colleges and universities to the spouses and children of their employees. The bill places an excise tax on private college endowments of $250,000 per student. Beyond the bill, student loan rates are increasing and grants decreasing.
Despite the animosity shown toward university professors with cushy jobs, America’s higher education faculty are mostly a vast underpaid army of precarious adjuncts and non-tenure track instructors. Seventy-five percent of college faculty are off the tenure track. Fifty percent are part-time faculty — adjuncts — without employment security or benefits.
No intelligent millennial wants to be a university professor given the working conditions, poor pay, and limited career possibilities across all disciplines, including STEM fields.
Policy pundits and, notably, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, envision the impending closure of, at minimum, half of the more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States. Some pundits celebrate this disruptive future. However, this future looks much like the past.
Is making American great again about returning to the period before World War II, when only 15 percent of high school students — almost all from wealthy families — received a broad, rich, and “liberal” education in the arts and sciences? Was the democratization of higher education after the war a historical anomaly?
Domestic and international enrollments for U.S. colleges and universities are in rapid decline. Tax policies encourage a more dramatic decline in the coming years.
Was it hard when the local factory closed? Imagine how hard it will be when the local college or university closes. Maybe all those university buildings can be turned into luxury lofts.
Michael J. Mulvey,
St. Thomas University,