Lawrence Bacow: “How do we bend the cost curve in higher education?”


LAWRENCE BACOW: I’ve spent
a lot of time thinking about how do we bend the cost
curve in higher education? How do we use
technology in ways that allow us to enhance
productivity of faculty so that we can make the
kind of wonderful education that we have available here
more accessible to more people? We know how to make
higher education cheaper. It’s not that hard. It’s called bigger classes. It’s called less hands-on
learning, fewer curricular options, less support
for co-curricular life, simpler facilities, less
support for students and alumni when they
leave the institution. We know how to do it. The problem is, that’s
not what people want. In fact, one of the
challenges in higher education is that competition tends
to drive costs up, not down. We need to get a handle on that. And I think technology
plays a role in that. We’re using it today as a way
of extending this conversation to people literally from around
the world and also temporally. So there are ways in
which we can do it. The challenge is to
figure out how to do it and to preserve all that’s
special about what happens when we can find students and
faculty under temperature and pressure for four years
in a residential setting– if we’re talking about
undergraduate education– and what also happens in
graduate and professional schools. But the Chan School is
doing some very interesting experiments right now and
using blended learning and using technology to
try and extend things. So that’s one way– one big challenge–
and one way which I hope that we will be
different going forward. There are other things
that I could talk about.

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