I recently stumbled on to this article at Times Higher Education about the incredible dominance of Oxford University as the alma mater of almost every single U.K. Prime Minister since the end of World War II. That got me thinking… what about U.S. Presidents? Were they all educated at Harvard and Yale? I knew the answer was no – Gerald Ford was quite the football star at Michigan – but I wanted to know just how much the Ivy League and like institutions dominate US Presidential politics. The answer is something along the lines of “quite a bit, but not as much as you might think.”
One of President Trump’s many campaign promises was to “Drain the Swamp” – eliminate corruption in Washington by limiting the influence of professional “hired gun” lobbyists and special interests. The funny thing about that promise is that it may have been achieved by the GOP Congress way back in 2011… at least as it relates to universities. Continue reading
When you hear the word “lobbyist”, it probably conjures up an image of an Aaron Eckhart-like figure spending tons of money wining and dining Senators and Representatives. You’re probably thinking of major industries – Big Pharma, Big Tobacco, Big fill-in-the-blank – that, depending on your political persuasion, you may consider sinister. If that’s what you think, there are two things you should probably know about lobbyists. First, many (if not most) lobbyists are hard-working people representing important and generally well-supported causes like funding for public libraries and making pet adoption easier. Second, if you’ve given to a college or university in the past year, some of that money probably went to a lobbyist.
I’m teaching a course in strategic enrollment management (SEM) this semester. For those who aren’t inundated in higher ed terminology, SEM is the process by which colleges and universities try to meet institutional goals through recruiting, enrolling, retaining, and graduating students. For many institutions, adding to their prestige is a top SEM goal. U.S. News college rankings rely heavily on admit rates – the lower the rate, the lower the ranking. This incentivizes schools to become increasingly selective. While schools deny more people year after year, however, they rarely jump up or down in the rankings all that much because most schools are increasing their selectivity at similar rates. There is one notable exception to that rule: Northeastern University.
Yesterday I wrote about tuition exchanges as a way to reduce college costs for students in niche majors who have interests in going out-of-state for college. Let’s talk a little bit about the benefits of these exchanges. There are two main benefits:
- They allow states to specialize in which academic programs they offer, ensuring that funding can go to bettering the programs they have rather than trying (and failing) to catch up to competitors by adding new programs. Doing so means that they can
- They provide students with more financially feasible options when it comes to their college choice.
Kentucky Fried Chicken is now the world’s second largest fast food company in terms of sales. The company has restaurants in 118 countries, and last year the state of Kentucky was among the top 10 producers of poultry products in the United States, producing around 1.7 Million pounds of poultry. Yet, the state’s universities produced exactly 0 poultry science graduates. There are no shortage of Commonwealth students interested in becoming the next Colonel Sanders, but the degree specifically tailored to one of Kentucky’s largest agricultural exports just isn’t offered at public institutions in the state.