Is There a Higher Education Bubble?

Tell us what you think in our poll!

By Jenna A. Robinson


May 20, 2011

Over the past month, I have been examining the evidence that higher education has been oversold to the point that a bubble is forming—that is, the value of a college education may be less than the price being paid for it. I have presented evidence that enrollment has grown considerably, prices have skyrocketed, and graduates’ earnings and academic skills have not kept up.

Others lay out evidence that a bubble doesn’t exist. Economic historian Gary North explains that “the perceived prestige of the diploma” prevents higher education from being a bubble. “Parents are buying a consumer good. ‘My child just got into [Prestige U].’ The parent gets bragging rights,” North says. An article in the Economist argues that evidence of the bubble “hasn’t shown up in the numbers yet.”

Today, it’s up to you to decide. Is there a higher education bubble?


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