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Colleges Benefit Faculty, Not Students
The article ''Higher Education: the Affordability Quest,'' Jan. 9, was very informative about the symptoms of rising tuition costs. Rising costs in higher education will not be effectively addressed until the core problem is recognized. Colleges are run for the benefit of the faculty, and to a lesser degree for the administrators, but certainly not for the benefit of the students. As an example, the courses for a typical college curricula are three units. Those units are there because it makes it conven ient for faculty members to schedule their time, and for the system to schedule classes. But no one raises the question of whether three units gives the most effective amount of learning.
I suspect that almost everyone who went to college can recall countless courses that were padded to fill in the available hours or to ''cover the text,'' regardless of whether the text was 100 pages or 800 pages.
The public takes it for granted that colleges are efficiently run and that the education delivered is in the proper amount and balance. I would suggest that this is a false assumption. Pareto's Law, which suggests that ''generally something like 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the inputs,'' applies in academia as well as in business. If so, then the cost of education and time to complete a college degree can be significantly reduced. But these changes will not occur until there is some
serious questioning of the status quo.
William H. Brickner
Los Altos, Calif.
Professor Emeritus of Business
San Jose State University