Education Editorial: Higher Education & The Business Model

There is much debate about whether or not higher education should be run like a business. The never-ending UVA saga was seemingly provoked by the differences between Administrators and Policy Makers about running the institution more like a corporation.

Inside Higher Education recently offered, "The Business Model, which prizes "Customer Satisfaction" or "Efficiency" above all else, has led in higher education to an imbalance in the relation between student and institution, and has casual ties to the current fiscal crisis.

Now the very capitalistic principles that have sustained our higher education institutions are being blamed for the financial crisis that we are experiencing! Well let's take a look at some the assumptions.

First, customer satisfaction should be a component in rating the success. It certainly is included in the annual rankings. And who are the customers? Maybe parents are the customers, or should be!

To think differently is like supporting the fact that an 18 year old must give approval for his or her parents to get their grades. Here is the law, parents get the bills, students get the report card!

Secondly, the issue is not efficiency, it is effectiveness. Do what we need to do to be effective and then do those things efficiently because many of the things that we do efficiently didn't need to be done in the first place.

Lastly, a reminder, if there are no students then there is no need for faculty or administration. No demand, no supply! And as for effectiveness, when did we last close one for not doing the job?

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