About that hostility: Mr. Santorum made headlines by declaring that President Obama wants to expand college enrollment because colleges are “indoctrination mills” that destroy religious faith. But Mr. Romney’s response to a high school senior worried about college costs is arguably even more significant, because what he said points the way to actual policy choices that will further undermine American education.The choice of California is sadly apt. The state's three-tiered UC/CS/community college system is, even after these devastating cuts, a remarkable achievement. Residents have access to an impressive spectrum of educational options, ranging from inexpensive schools designed to be friendly to disadvantaged and non-traditional students to some of the world's best public universities (with surprisingly reasonable tuition).
Here’s what the candidate told the student: “Don’t just go to one that has the highest price. Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And, hopefully, you’ll find that. And don’t expect the government to forgive the debt that you take on.”
Wow. So much for America’s tradition of providing student aid. And Mr. Romney’s remarks were even more callous and destructive than you may be aware, given what’s been happening lately to American higher education.
For the past couple of generations, choosing a less expensive school has generally meant going to a public university rather than a private university. But these days, public higher education is very much under siege, facing even harsher budget cuts than the rest of the public sector. Adjusted for inflation, state support for higher education has fallen 12 percent over the past five years, even as the number of students has continued to rise; in California, support is down by 20 percent.
In case you think I'm exaggerating, check out this post from Joseph:
If you check out the rest of the list you'll find all of the UC schools have respectable rankings. Given their caliber, they are also quite affordable. I took a grad course in Bayesian networks a couple of years ago at UC Riverside. It cost me eight hundred dollars and was an extraordinary bargain.
From the Academic rankings of world universities:1. Harvard University (private)2. Stanford University (private)3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (private)4. University of California, Berkeley (public)5. University of Cambridge (British)6. California Institute of Technology (private)7. Princeton University (private)8. Columbia University (private)9. University of Chicago (private)10. University of Oxford (British)11. Yale University (private)12. University of California, Los Angeles (public)13. Cornell University (private)14. University of Pennsylvania (private)15. University of California, San Diego (public)16. University of Washington (public)17. University of California, San Francisco (public)18. The Johns Hopkins University (private)19. University of Wisconsin - Madison (public)20. University College London (British)
Some interesting patterns immediately jump out. Of the top 20 schools, 17 are American, which is pretty impressive given the share of the world population held by the United States. Of the 17 American schools, six of them are public (which is amazing given how many resources the private schools have). Of the public schools, 4 of them are in California.
It should be noted that some pundits don't think much of California's commitment to great universities. Here's Kevin Carey:
If Berkeley’s star professors are lured away to Stanford, it’s bad for the university but not necessarily bad for America, particularly if (as is frequently the case) those professors teach few if any undergraduates. They’ll be the same people doing the same thing at another university an hour away.
Of course, Carey also believes Rick Perry Is a Higher-Education Visionary.