"Will America's universities go the way of its car companies?" asks The Economist, whose nifty chart shows how the price of college has far outpaced our ability to pay for it—even making other kinds of inflation look somewhat reasonable by comparison.
Similar to the ways in which our universities now reign supreme, American car manufacturers were once held in high esteem. All the world wanted to know the secret to our success:
How did they churn out dazzling new models every year? How did they manage so many people so successfully (General Motors was then the biggest private-sector employer in the world)? And how did they keep their customers so happy?
Some question whether our system of higher education could fall into a similar state of disrepair. U.S. News & World Report recently issued a damning assesment: "If colleges were businesses, they would be ripe for hostile takeovers, complete with serious cost-cutting and painful reorganizations.”
Costs are soaring. Students aren't graduating, whether on time or at all. The proliferation of web-based content poses a threat to what Bill Gates termed "place-based colleges."
Have we lost our way? And can this luxury model of higher education possibly sustain itself?