Why Public Higher Education Should Be Free: How to Decrease Cost and Increase Quality at American Universities

Robert Samuels, Author
Robert Samuels. Rutgers Univ., $22.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-0-8135-6123-3
Reviewed on: 06/03/2013
Release date: 08/01/2013
Hardcover - 178 pages - 978-0-8135-6124-0
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-95321-5
Open Ebook - 193 pages - 978-0-8135-6125-7
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Samuels (Writing Prejudices), president of the University Council-American Federation of Teachers union and lecturer at U.C.L.A. and U.C. Santa Barbara, outlines the pricing problem American colleges create for undergraduates. As he explains, universities are often run like corporations, and research and graduate programs come at a cost to undergraduate education. Graduate students provide cheap labor for research projects, but are less prepared for teaching. The creation of online courses diminishes the educational experience for undergrads, and incorporating new technology in the classroom is costly. Further, universities’ risky investments can shrink their endowments, leaving less money for financial aid. Budget cuts cause class sizes to swell and the quality of education to shrink. The solution, Samuels argues, is making public higher education free, which would eliminate the burden of student loans for high-achieving but less affluent students, by rerouting government assistance that goes to for-profit institutions or tax breaks for the wealthy. By restructuring how education is financed, the emphasis could be shifted from prestigious researchers toward quality undergraduate education. While the book would have benefited from a plan of action to bring about this reform, Samuels’s argument is a persuasive and informative introduction to the higher education industry. (Aug.)
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