They solved for the equilibrium

Yet GWU is taking a surprising and radical step that has prompted deep faculty anxiety: It is choosing to shrink — a lot.

Over the next five years, the private university just west of the White House aims to slash the undergraduate population of its D.C. campuses 20 percent. That would mean 2,100 fewer students, less tuition revenue and tough choices on whether to reduce faculty and financial aid or find other ways to balance the budget.

Many colleges have scrambled in recent times to cope with falling enrollment amid demographic upheaval. GWU provides the rare case of a school announcing in advance, as a public strategy, that it wants to get smaller…

LeBlanc declined to rule out faculty layoffs or other significant steps to reduce expenditures. He said those issues will be hashed out in consultation with faculty, trustees and others in the development of a strategic plan.

Here is more from Nick Anderson at The Washington Post.  Keep in mind that universities cannot do much to control their labor costs in the short or even medium-run, and thus shifts in demand can have a spectacularly large impact on finances.

Comments

You mean they did not have alternatives?
http://perkurowski.blogspot.com/2007/01/should-not-higher-education-be-more-of.html

At least GWU has value in real estate as an option, imagine if they were located in a rural town.

My impression is that a decade ago GWU was in fashion because the recession hurt private industry career prospects, so a government job in Washington was looked upon by parents as the safest bet, and GWU looked like a way to get a Washington job.

There seems to be less of this lately, plus I imagine GWU's calling card of going to school next to the White House is less fashionable with the right kind of parents during the Trump era than during the Obama era.

NYU figured out about 25 years ago that NYC was awash with underemployed smart people whom you could hire cheaply as adjunct professors to have something to add to their resumes. D.C. must be similar.

I presume GWU and the other D.C. colleges have already gone down this path?

I wonder if they will consider making any cuts to their Office of Diversity and Inclusion? How about their Resources for Undocumented Individuals? Perhaps the (by my count) six "studies" programs? And the big question, how many people are getting paid to look at changing the Colonials mascot?

+1

Ouch!

The can't touch the untouchables (not in the Indian caste sense)! Those programs must be preserved because diversity!

The way things are going, they'll have to take "George Washington" out of their name

Indeed, a white male nationalist slave-owner is not long for this world. (A fondness for powdered wigs might buy him some time with the transgender crowd, however.)

Hopefully the new, smaller Barack Obama University (home of the Fightin' Community Organizers!) will still carry the same gravitas with the academics.

That's not me!

That said, I thought Obummer was a BIG DICK!

Signed,

A typical white person, cling to my guns and religion or whatever - The REAL EdR! :)

Whatever you think about his politics, he was black and therefore has a way bigger dick than any other President.

Maybe we should ask Monica. She has already earned her "presidential kneepads".

No way. Clinton probably has a pretty big dick but when you're talking black you're in a different universe, there's just no comparison here. I'd say Trump is #2 but he's white so there's a ceiling.

In reality they will cut science, engineering, and math classes because the Chinese/Indian/foreign students that make up the majority of these fields are being shut off by our hostile immigration system. The "studies" classes will still remain strong because the natives will always demand it.

Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic in believing that the influx of Chinese/Indian/foreign students in STEM is part of what pushes the natives towards the humanities, and that a hostile immigration system reduces the competition in these programs, allowing the natives to pursue their degree in that and find productive jobs to boot. Ah, hope springs eternal.

Natives aren't going to drop their ethnic studies classes for math because there are less actual ethnics in those STEM classes. Frankly, if they did, I wouldn't want them in job that was mission critical like designing bridges, planes, semiconductors, etc. They are better off in ethnic studies.

I'm impressed that you are giving the liberal-arts crowd even less credit than I do. There seems to be plenty of reasonably intelligent people blowing their student loans on worthless degrees that could hack it in STEM.

Is it wrong to believe that the liberal arts crowd prefers to study the liberal arts over STEM?

Keep in mind that universities cannot do much to control their labor costs in the short or even medium-run,

No, they choose not to do much to control their labor costs.

I've been at a place that went through this and the equilibrium is to increase teaching and when faculty on the margin of retirement leave, and the best young faculty have left, you've solved the budget problem because you don't replace them. Of course gradually the quality of graduating student goes down with a four year lag. Oddly the number of admin people never goes down...

Was the quality of GW's average student all that good in the first place? That school always seemed like the Gucci of higher education: the high price is supposed to act as a signal of quality and style, but only to people who don't know any better.

Pretty representative of the Imperial Capital as a whole, then.

So easy to fix!

1. Raise tuition
2. Add more student fees.
3. Dig deeper into the IQ barrel by expanding "studies"
4. Get rid of STEM - it's racist.
5. Recruit more foreign students and charge them up the wazoo. Especially useless test cheater children of Chinese oligarchs.
6. Recruit more Chinese spies.
7. Build a new fieldhouse, Olympic pool, sauna, jacuzzi, and mega-cool student center.

Hmmm... I forgot about that!

Add or expand football and basketball programs. Cancel soccer, frisbee, and hackysack!

We're gonna solve this problem for them! I hope they are reading!

I almost forgot, everyone gets a medal every week just for being special! Medals are cheap!

Nothing better at college than a bunch of jumbo black dicks in the locker room.

We should be glad internet comment sections are around to help people like EdR and Dick the Butcher blow off steam instead of shooting up a Walmart.

I guess you're blowing a lot more than steam

We should meet.

No me! I love a man in uniform!

Not so fast on the foreign students:

"New international student enrollment has dropped for the second straight year in 2017-2018 after a decade of steady growth, according to the Institute of International Education. Surveyed university officials have blamed visa delays for this trend, while other research suggests the current political climate may be a factor. "

https://www.educationdive.com/news/whats-causing-fewer-foreign-students-to-head-to-the-us/561981/

If this means fewer totally unintelligible Chinese TAs +1

WP: "He [President LeBlanc] also wants to expand programs in science, technology, engineering and math. The board of trustees has endorsed the enrollment shift, LeBlanc said. Now is the time, he said, for a pivot." Those programs attract a smaller number of students, so the "pivot" may have dictated the new equilibrium. GWU isn't the first college to "pivot" to those programs. Readers of the comments at this blog are aware that opportunities in STEM are not what is commonly believed.

GWU's endowment is about $1.8 billion, but its growth has lagged in part because gifts have slowed (GWU did not receive a single multi-million dollar gift in 2018). If LeBlanc believes gifting will increase by the "pivot" to STEM, that is debatable. MIT, Stanford, Cal Tech and other top STEM schools receive large gifts from STEM grads because of their long STEM history, but let's consider where the biggest gifts come from: bankers and successful entrepreneurs.

What does “expand” mean here? Absent more details, I’d take their statements with some caution.

Their biggest degree program by far is social sciences (about 35%); actual science looks like about 5%, engineering is about 5%, math is about 2%.

It is a bit of an odd choice for a university whose primary asset is it's location in the heart of the imperial capital. Seems like they should expand whatever ambitious mid-career governmental employees want/need... which I'm guessing isn't engineering.

Yep. Science, technology, engineering and math doesn't sound like a good fit. Data analysis?

I still think Tyler was on some of those flights, he's been too quiet about the whole Epstein affair. Prove me wrong!

>GWU's endowment is about $1.8 billion

Mostly comprising D.C. real estate (last time I was there, they had a ton of old houses that had been converted into iffy office space)

So, the reason parents resort to criminal means to get their kids into top schools is there are too many slots in top schools?

Or is GWU the next step up from the now mostly bankrupt and liquidated for-profit schools? I thought it was an upper tier school.

Related, I was a bit taken by the comment on PBS Newshour that the Ivys were afraid the GI Bill would destroy them.
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/admissions-scandal-highlights-disconnect-between-colleges-message-and-action

Paul Tough has written a book about this very topic, titled “The Years that Matter Most,” and he joins Amna Nawaz to discuss.
:
Paul Tough:

It depends on the institution.

So there are some institutions, a handful of institutions, where the endowment is so huge that they don't really depend on tuition revenue at all. So the reason why they are admitting so many high-income students, I think, has more to do with their culture than anything else.

But for a large number of highly selective private institutions, there are real financial pressures. About a quarter of those institutions are now running a deficit, and many more are really close to that line.

And so when they're selecting students to admit, they have got to think, more than anything else, about tuition. They're really looking for customers. And that means they're looking for affluent students.

And for admissions officers, that leads to this real sort of cognitive dissonance, because they know that they're looking for customers who can pay, but the communications department and the president's office at their colleges often talk about merit and diversity and fairness instead.
:
I mean, I feel like the flip side of the college admissions scandal is the scandal of how little we are now spending on public higher education. Over the last couple of decades, we have cut our public funding on higher education by 16 percent per student.

And that means that the kind of public universities where most low-income students go are not only raising tuition; they're also having to cut corners. And that really affects the education that the students are getting.
:
But on the — in the system as a whole, what really needs to change is the way that we fund public higher education. I think part of the reason that families are so competitive about those most highly selective private institutions is, we don't have a robust enough public system to compete with that private system.

If we go back to funding our public institutions, they will become the real engines of social mobility.

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/amanpour-and-company/video/paul-tough-on-inequality-in-higher-education/

MARTIN: Partly the problem here is that you’ve got too many people competing for a scarce resource as part of your problem is it shouldn’t be scarce.

TOUGH: Yeah. I mean I think our choice to make higher education scarce is a choice, right? And other moments in American history we have chosen differently and other countries right now are choosing differently. There has been at certain points in the American past this moment where technology changes and the workplace changes and communities get the message our kids need more education. And we respond in — responded in the past in this pretty rational way. Not to say like well let’s ration it and figure out how we can get it for our kids and not give it to other kids. But to say like OK, our community needs more education. We’re going to build — I read about this thing called the high school movement in the early 20th century where suddenly workplaces changed, communities realized that kids need a high school education and all over the country people built — communities built free public high schools. And in just 30 years we went from having about 9 percent of kids getting high school degrees to about 50 percent of the kids getting high school degrees. It was this huge change. And it made sense. And there weren’t a lot of fights about like who should go to high school and who shouldn’t. It was just understood. This was a collectively good. And the same thing is happening right now where we — there are all the signs from the economy, from the labor market place are that our kids need more education and we are responding now in this very different way. And the message that we’re sending to these students is you’re on your own. This is not our job t take care of this. This is your own problem. And that’s just a different kind of response, it’s a different kind of — I mean it’s a much less American response in my opinion. It’s a much less — it’s a much less collective response. It’s just we’ve forgotten this idea that higher education, public higher education benefits everybody.

College enrollment is higher now than ever in the US. If you are a poor student, and particularly one that checks any minority box, you should not have any trouble getting into a university, if not on a free ride then via this country's extensive student loans program. Indeed, I would be curious to see any case of a student who qualifies for university admission but can't afford to attend outright.

But that's the rub. The problem isn't that colleges are still too selective, the problem is that we've hit the upper limit of the proportion of the population that can attend college without dumbing-down the institution beyond recognition. College is supposed to be selective; not everyone gets to be an astronaut when they grow up.

Instead we have turned public colleges especially into remedial high school and pretended that credentials are equivalent to knowledge. The fact that the government can use student loans to subsidize the most leftist institutions in America (and get their money back!) doesn't help the situation, either.

>Indeed, I would be curious to see any case of a student who qualifies for university admission but can't afford to attend outright.

Typically, it's the children the 'middle managers' and the like -- their family is too rich to qualify for need based aid yet still poor enough to care about price.

Over the last couple of decades, we have cut our public funding on higher education by 16 percent per student.

We have NOT cut public funding on higher education by 16% per student. DIRECT funding has gone down but indirect funding (subsidized loans, Pell Grants, etc.) has gone up. The fact that Paul Tough doesn't know that is distressing, as is the fact that the interviewer doesn't even think to question Tough's statement .

Perhaps Brennan' and Magness's Cracks in the Ivory Tower is not considered respectable reading at PBS.

Like any other product you have to shop for good deals. In California community colleges are an excellent deal. State universities are also reasonably priced. The UC is quite a bit more expensive, but it does much research which is sometimes subsidized by industry. The UC system is not very frugal - lots of bells and whistles.

Btw, I'm a boomer, now nearing 72, who benefited from the huge increases in education spending from about 1920 to 1970. My parent's generation got much more education, 12 years as a minimum standard instead of 8, and my generation got 14+ years as a standard, at least as a white person, and not in the South.

The biggest and most important difference between then and now is the huge support for "votech" in both high school and post high school.

In high school it was common to talk of the college track and dummy track, but I had some college track peers who had one foot in the dummy track, earning a lot of money working in the GM factory, or in welding, electrical, as part of their high school coursework.

A decade ago, I took similar community college classes, but the times to employers was very low, mostly employers looking for people to start working full time. A few employers were supporting/paying their workers to take classes, but very few. Very different than in the 50s and 60s, based on the stories of the old, soon to retire trade faculty, and other information.

The problem is trade education is very expensive, on the same order as science, eg medical, biochem, physics. In high school I did chemistry and biology lab work that is not done in collrge level courses today of higher intro level curriculum. Cost is just too high for a lab with sinks, gas for bunsen burners, flasks, petri dishes, dissection tools, titration, etc.

A machine tool, milling machine or lathe, now costs $25,000 to $100,000, and one is needed for each student in the lab for 12-20 hours a week. Running labs 12 hours a day makes maximum use of the capital, and if you have the instructors, the classes will be filled, but instructors are master machinists in demand and offered very good pay by industry. Today, most are semi-retired or working part-time as adjunct faculty, with employer or union support.

And you can not become a machinist, welder, cabinet maker, in a lecture hall, watching videos on the web, etc.

And creating simulators is more expensive than buying the machine. Air plane simulators are built at great expense so pilot can be forced to fail without the cost in lives and wreckage. Crashing a lathe or milling machine seldom costs more than $20, $2000 worse case. Low chance of death, or lost limb.

The problem is too little spending on education leading to too much spent on cheap, but low value education, and the high cost, high value education eliminated. This is worst in the for-profit education sector.

Eg, there are a number of for profit CDL truck driving schools, but large trucking companies prefer to train drivers themselves because such schools don't do more than get the CDL test passed, not train how to drive a truck.

This is why we should 100% unironically bring back guilds.

What do guilds do that unions don't?

A better question is what do unions do that guilds don't, the answer to which is "rent-seek".

Less flippantly, the idea is to transition away from organizing for the purpose of negotiating compensation with corporations (an arrangement that pigeonholes the union member as a fungible labor unit to be consumed by an employer) and towards organizing for the purpose of protecting, promoting, and furthering a trade.

Guilds don't rent-seek? Do they only allow saints in their ranks?

"the idea is to transition away from organizing for the purpose of negotiating compensation with corporations and ... towards organizing for the purpose of protecting, promoting, and furthering a trade."

This almost always clashes with the one and only corporate value of profit. You argue for a scenario that is too naive and does not exist.

if you think the guilds did not rent-seek, well... you don't know enough about guilds.

I was most impressed by your comment but take issue with one bit.

"The problem is too little spending on education leading to too much spent on cheap, but low value education, and the high cost, high value education eliminated.' I don't see how the first part of that sentence is justified by the second. I could just as well say:

Too much is spent on cheap but low value education; high cost, high value education has been largely eliminated. The problem then is too much spending on unsuitable education.

"this idea that ... public higher education benefits everybody." Silly bloody idea.

"the problem is that we've hit the upper limit of the proportion of the population that can attend college without dumbing-down the institution beyond recognition": I guess that you've gone well beyond that limit.

"Keep in mind that universities cannot do much to control their labor costs in the short or even medium-run, and thus shifts in demand can have a spectacularly large impact on finances." Yes, the moral hazard of tenure strikes again. When will economics professors ever show some integrity and come out against it.

+1 Next door neighbor is a retired Dean. No one was taking the Italian language course, and he wanted to start a high demand Chinese language program, but couldn't because the Italian language guy had tenure.

Of course the best part of Oxford was all the homosexual antics we used to get up to. The quality of buggery has really gone downhill I hear, now-a-days you can't have a good guilt-free homosexual romp outside a Tory party conference.

You can't even spell "dearieme".

Shut up you cuck.

"Keep in mind that universities cannot do much to control their labor costs in the short or even medium-run ..."
Why not? Cut the administrative staff in half.

+1, that's a bizarre statement from Tyler. How many positions are actually covered by tenure? Probably not many. Sure, a lot of the university staff are probably unionized, but that wouldn't protect them against lay offs. The lay offs just have to be announced in advance.

The problem is, who's making the decision to cut administrative positions? Hint: that's an administrative decision.

Ok, fair point.

Even w.r.t. most tenured positions, you can still cut departments.

Could they for instance rename History as Critical History Studies, wait a year, then add a new History department, wait a year, then cut the Critical History Studies department? The new History department could simultaneously have lower pay and mandatory higher scholarship levels. I bet they could fill it with quality white males unhireable at woke universities.

Even tenured faculty retire or die. Attrition can do some of the work of downsizing.

+1. GWU has a president, 11 vice-presidents, and 11 deans with each of them likely having a substantial administrative staff of paper pushers.

I think they are going to get their wish and have less students, way less students...With that winning strategy, applicants would be foolish to apply there.

Not sure that follows. Fewer students w/ the same staff = smaller class sizes, which is generally thought of as a positive thing. Fewer students also means they're going to be more selective, which may translate into higher "rankings", more prestige, and more signalling strength for the degree.

If "more undergraduates" was the reason to go to a given school then everyone should be looking at the University of Central Florida.

"That would mean 2,100 fewer students, less tuition revenue and tough choices on whether to reduce faculty and financial aid or find other ways to balance the budget."

So, let me get this straight. They are planning on cutting the student population by 20%, but they're not sure if they are going to cut any staff positions? Do they know how a business works?

If they knew how businesses worked, they wouldn't be in academia.

To be clear, I think we all see the endgame here. The university will develop a master plan that follows the latest and greatest in popular wokeness. This will entail not only retaining but in fact expanding the various forays into diverse and multicultural experiments while perhaps cutting some of the stodgier and pastier departments and staff. The university will slide further into irrelevance while the architects of the master plan blame everything but the nature of their own dogma and repeat the whole process, presuming that the nation hasn't devolved into social collapse or DC hasn't been nuked into oblivion by then.

Yes! They are going to follow my 8 step plan!

For review:

1. Raise tuition
2. Add more student fees.
3. Dig deeper into the IQ barrel by expanding "studies"
4. Get rid of STEM - it's racist.
5. Recruit more foreign students and charge them up the wazoo. Especially useless test cheater children of Chinese oligarchs.
6. Recruit more Chinese spies.
7. Build a new fieldhouse, Olympic pool, sauna, jacuzzi, and mega-cool student center.

The best part of your 8 step plan is it has only 7 steps.

The kid's grades and test scores aren't so great, but we got money, so it will probably work out.

No need for Felicity Huffman shenanigans, just offer to pay list price.

I assume everyone has also seen:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/10/magazine/college-admissions-paul-tough.html

Mom thinks Felicity committed no crime.

A slight aside: as Steve Sailer points out on a certain wrongthink website, it's a bit ironic that the admissions officer profiled in Tough's article, Angel Pérez, was admitted to college in spite of his lousy SAT score, only to become a college admissions officer where he endeavors to admit even more students with lousy SAT scores.

Sailer notes that college admissions officer is a bit of a fall-back job, something that one might do after striking out in non-academic employment. I might add to Sailer's observation that this certainly is an off-putting, if not immediately obvious, concession in the article's narrative. One who watches too many Hollywood movies might expect the scrappy Puerto Rican kid who gets good grades but doesn't test well to be given a chance in college and prove himself by excelling there before heading out to cure cancer or invent a better mousetrap. Instead, he winds up as a mid-level administrator at an obscure liberal-arts joint who, if I can play the elitist's advocate for a moment, is effectively functioning as a Trojan horse.

Anywhoo... you may want to be more precise in your statement, as the article notes that these rich white kids with poor grades are in fact scoring above-average, if not well, on standardized tests. This is written off as the product of private tutoring and test prep, to the detriment of poorer minority students who have high GPAs but poor test scores.

Again, Sailer notes that the inverse could just as easily be postulated: perhaps the poor minority students are having their GPAs inflated by high school admins wishing to square the circle, with the standardized testing scores showing a truth that can't be whitewashed with grading curves. But then that would make the premise that the entire college admissions racket is lubricated by skin color and money rather tenuous.

As opposed to rich kids at A's for everyone private schools?

I'd hope admission offices have a deflator for schools with too high a GPA to SAY mismatch. Rich or poor.

The article seems to suggest the opposite, that instead of colleges reducing the importance of high GPAs relative to low test scores, they are in fact taking it as evidence that intelligent minorities are being harmed by a -ist standardized testing system.

I'd love to see an example of a high-dollar prep school giving out A's to everyone, though.

Actually, they said, the upward creep is most pronounced in schools with large numbers of white, wealthy students. And its especially noticeable in private schools, where the rate of inflation was about three times higher than in public schools.

Hurwitz said an A is now "the modal high school grade,” a solid sign of grade inflation.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/07/17/easy-a-nearly-half-hs-seniors-graduate-average/485787001/

SAY was my stupid phone spell correcting SAT

Too many expensive private schools -- the country club pools are dried up, and the green card brigades can't come anymore. The private education balloon may be finally busting.

If Trump is a one term president it'll be just a couple years before the red carpet is rolled out again for foreign students from moneyed families.

We had that scare in the public stater colleges during the last recession. The professors found a simple solution, lie. They begin writing research articles proving beyond a shadow of a doubt, that their well being was vital to the economy. It sort of worked, though Jerry Brown knew it was a scam, Gavin fell for it.

If only universities had the labor flexibility of Uber. Professors with no predefined working hours, only called with an app when necessary. #educationsharing

Since the problem seems to be its lowered rank, is it possible that the issue is the loss of low-scoring but high paying (especially in donations) rich kids from all over who want a top 25 or 30 school? Overseas applicants are especially sensitive to numerical metrics. This way they raise their score but still hang onto those few dozen students they admit each year who pay more for admission on average that full tuition?

It's interesting, the writer's nod to "demographic upheaval" without saying what that means or perhaps knowing himself. So the scheme relied on a bunch of rich kids and a bunch of poor kids but also needs a few middle-class kids and somehow it's gotten out of whack? STEM boilerplate aside, I think a purely financial explanation is more probable than that the college suddenly grasped that fewer and fewer people in the culture they in some small way helped to create, want what they're selling.

Would be interesting to know how their expenses break down between staff salaries and buildings/operations. Also how their revenue breaks down between tuition & endowment money.

Shrinking means that, in theory, they'll be more selective and end up with a more highly qualified set of undergraduates. Laying off the bottom cohort of faculty means their faculty becomes more impressive (on a per-member basis).

Number of students able to pay tuition goes down (since there are fewer students in general), but, if the prestige of the university goes up, then they have a more compelling product (in terms of signal strength) and may be able to charge more.

I have fond memories of GWU; I spent an exchange year there, 4 blocks from the White House. I was very impressed by US student standards compared to British ones....and the girls were hot too...

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