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Archive for September 26, 2021

Universities in USA and Anglosphere Have Dismal Future Prospects: 1

September 26, 2021 21 comments

One of the most interesting tweets I came across in the past few months can be summarized as follows.. the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than causing any new problems, merely exposed the severe underlying rot and many vulnerabilities already present in the system. And this brings me to the one sector the economy which it exposed in a most unforgiving manner. As many of you know, my opinion of the education system (both K-12 and university) is less than flattering.. to put it mildly. While this might seem a bit off for somebody with a MSc and PhD, I prefer to live in the real world- even if it is not as bright and shiny as I would prefer.

With that in mind, let us talk about the dismal future of universities in this country and rest of anglosphere. Some of you might have recently come across an article about the percentage of men enrolled in universities steadily going down over the past decade. While feminazis and the alphabet people might celebrate this as a victory in the fight against “cis-male patriarchy”, real life factors behind this trend are much more worrying. For starters, this trend is far more pronounced for white men than non-white men. But why is that a bad thing? For starters, the decision to not attend university in this group is voluntary and driven by cost-benefit analysis rather than being unable to do so.

Anyone who can fog a mirror in this country can also get a large but non-dischargeable student loan. Standards for admission and staying in university are also much lower than at any time in recent decades. There are those who blame this trend on colleges putting as many non-white faces as they can find in their advertising brochures to reaffirm their fealty to “diversity”. While this could have a very minor effect, it does not explain why the trend in declining male enrollment picked and accelerated a full decade after such advertising became the norm. Other claim that this has a lot to do with anti-male environment in universities. Perhaps.. but then, universities have never been full of especially masculine men.

In my opinion, the accelerating fall in male enrollment in universities is largely due to an honest cost-benefit analysis, especially in a rapidly deindustrializing country. And the most important factor behind the cost part of that analysis is the “business model” of universities in this country and rest of anglosphere. To understand what I am getting at, let me ask you a simple question- why hasn’t total university enrollment in other developed countries with noticeably older populations (Germany, Japan, France etc) merely plateaued rather than fallen like in this country? This becomes even more glaring when you realize that universities in this country and rest of anglosphere are very busy recruiting students with rich parents from countries such as China, India etc.

In fact, without foreign students, many American universities would have to cut back much further and layoff far more people than they have to date. There are those who blame this on “demographic trends”- specifically that the kids of baby boomers have finished university by 2010 and the generation after them has noticeably fewer kids in addition to be less numerous themselves. However, as I just pointed out- even countries whose total population is shrinking have not seen the same fall in university enrollment as USA. And it is not just this country as others such as UK and Canada also have either stagnant numbers or extremely anemic growth in spite of aggressive recruiting of overseas students.

So what is the fundamental problem with the “business model” of universities in USA and anglosphere? Well.. the model is based on the institution being profitable rather than producing anything which benefits the surrounding society. That is why American universities are full of showy (and often ugly) new buildings and facilities which are curiously understaffed. And the problems go much deeper.. the vast majority of courses are taught by temporary faculty paid near poverty wages while there is never a shortage of openings for highly-paid and useless administrative positions. My point is that universities run under this neoliberal “business model” became credentialing rackets- which sorta worked until the scrap of paper they sold could no longer provide a positive return for their marks.. I mean.. students.

The post-WW2 continuous expansion model which is the underlying organizational principle for universities in this country and rest of anglosphere also contributed to this problem, but did not cause it, since other developed countries which increased university enrollment after WW2 do not face the same problem- at least in the severe form we see in this country. While many universities are pretending that this problem can be fixed by more foreign students or more temporary academic staff it is my opinion that this problem with unfixable because the American university is now nothing more than a credentialing scam run by greedy and incompetent administrators with a very short-term focus.

In the next part of this short series, I will go into how other self-inflicted injuries such as SJW-ism, HR-ism and COVID-19 restrictions have further accelerated the richly deserved ongoing demise of universities in this country and rest of anglosphere.

What do you think? Comments?