We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Why Public Higher Education Should Be Free

How to Decrease Cost and Increase Quality at American Universities

Robert Samuels

Publication Year: 2013

Universities tend to be judged by the test scores of their incoming students and not on what students actually learn once they attend these institutions. While shared tests and surveys have been developed, most schools refuse to publish the results. Instead, they allow such publications as U.S. News & World Report to define educational quality. In order to raise their status in these rankings, institutions pour money into new facilities and extracurricular activities while underfunding their educational programs.

In Why Public Higher Education Should Be Free, Robert Samuels argues that many institutions of higher education squander funds and mislead the public about such things as average class size, faculty-to-student ratios, number of faculty with PhDs, and other indicators of educational quality. Parents and students seem to have little knowledge of how colleges and universities have been restructured over the past thirty years.

Samuels shows how research universities have begun to function as giant investment banks or hedge funds that spend money on athletics and administration while increasing tuition costs and actually lowering the quality of undergraduate education. In order to fight higher costs and lower quality, Samuels suggests, universities must reallocate these misused funds and concentrate on their core mission of instruction and related research.

Throughout the book, Samuels argues that the future of our economy and democracy rests on our ability to train students to be thoughtful participants in the production and analysis of knowledge. If leading universities serve only to grant credentials and prestige, our society will suffer irrevocable harm. Presenting the problem of how universities make and spend money, Samuels provides solutions to make these important institutions less expensive and more vital. By using current resources in a more effective manner, we could even, he contends, make all public higher education free.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-4


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 5-6

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-xii

...Universities are in crisis because they have lost their central identity. They were once defined by the twin goals of research and instruction, but now these two main activities are often lost in a sea of competing interests. It turns out that when a educational system or institution loses sight of its center, it spins out in many different directions, and these new interests can be very expensive and disorienting. In fact, I will argue that once a system...

read more

Why Tuition Goes Up and Quality Goes Down at American Research Universities

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-13

...One possible reason for the financial difficulties of public universities and colleges is that since 1980, states have been cutting their funding for higher education.3 In fact, if you listen to administrators at public institutions, they will tell you that if the states would just give them more money, all of their financial problems would disappear. Unfortunately, when administrators make these arguments, they are misrepresenting the situation...

read more

Where the Money Goes in Research Universities

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 14-25

...To explain why costs go up at American research universities, this chapter will look into how these institutions spend their money. Since very few people have ever examined university budgets in a detailed and careful way, it has been easy for schools to claim that tuition never covers the true cost of education. However, if we look closely at the numbers, we shall see that there is little relation between what universities charge for...

read more

Shortchanging Instruction at Research Universities, and Why Students Don’t Complain

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 26-42

...The previous two chapters have described how research universities have been decreasing their spending on direct instructional activities, while they increase their expenditures in other areas. In order to examine how these reductions in instructional budgets affect the education provided by these institutions, this chapter will examine the changing nature of student learning and faculty teaching and will show how the defunding...

read more

The Role of the Faculty and Graduate Students in Changing Universities

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 43-57

...Although some people believe that universities are now controlled by lazy liberal professors who indoctrinate their students into left-wing ideologies, the reality is that professors at research universities have lost much of their power, and they now represent a small minority of the employees at these institutions. Moreover, as universities seek to cut educational costs by relying on more part-time faculty, funding is moved from undergraduate...

read more

The Rise of the Administrative Class

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 58-73

...In the summer of 2000, I was sitting at a bargaining table with ten university administrators, discussing the different ways of assessing the quality of teachers in the University of California system. I started to get frustrated because the conversation was going nowhere, but then I realized that no one on the other side of the table had ever taught or had studied...

read more

The University as Hedge Fund

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 74-87

...In the winter of 2009, some of the most prestigious private and public research universities in the United States announced that they would have to scale back class offerings, increase class sizes, limit the hiring of new faculty, and restructure academic programs. The main reason for these changes was that the schools had lost billions of dollars in their endowments due to the global financial meltdown. In other words, the...

read more

The High Cost of Research

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 88-99

...American research universities have played an essential role in the world economy and the development of many important new technologies and medical innovations. In fact, without the research done at these institutions, we probably would not have the Internet, cellphones, most vaccines, and many other inventions that make our lives easier and more sustainable. However, this investment in research comes at a large cost, and...

read more

Technology to the Rescue?

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 100-114

...I am sitting on an Amtrak train trying to finish reading a novel, but I cannot concentrate because I am surrounded by people speaking—no, yelling—into their cellphones. Right behind me is a young college student who has two papers due the next day, one in history and one in English. I know this because she has called at least five different people to talk about how much..

read more

Making All Public Higher Education Free

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 115-129

...Throughout this book, I have pointed out a series of counterintuitive paradoxes. It seems that the more money research universities spend, the higher their tuition and the lower their quality of instruction. One would think that raising the price would improve the education, but as I have shown, due to the lack of concern for instructional quality, that is not the...

read more

Educating Students for a Multicultural Democracy

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 130-150

...Currently, there are two major movements in education around the globe: increased stress on efficiency and standardized testing, and a growing focus on teaching the whole student and covering a large variety of subject matter. Driving much of the first movement is the idea that education’s only purpose is to prepare a student for a future job in knowledge...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 151-166

Works Cited

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 167-176


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 177-178

read more

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 179-180

...Robert Samuels is president of the University Council–American Federation of Teachers union, which represents over three thousand lecturers and librarians in the University of California system. He is a lecturer at the University of California’s Los Angeles and Santa Barbara campuses...

E-ISBN-13: 9780813561257
E-ISBN-10: 0813561256
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813561233

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 859537554
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Why Public Higher Education Should Be Free

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Universities and colleges -- United States -- Finance.
  • Educational accountability -- United States
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access