Why Do So Many Low-Quality Higher Education Institutions Still Exist?

Most people agree that a college education is the path to a better career and improved financial stability. Formal education increases your network as well as your net worth, and it teaches critical thinking skills.

Not all colleges and universities are the same. Each offers different programs and courses of study, of course, but the real puzzle lies in the fact that the quality of the educational programs can differ among similar universities. Some schools will be of a much lower quality than others, providing inferior educational experiences.

The conundrum leaves many wondering, why do so many low-quality higher education institutions still exist?

Failure to raise expectations

Affluent students seek out better universities for their studies, but many minority students set their sights too low. They gain acceptance at low-quality schools even though they could have gotten into better quality universities.

African American and Hispanic students are more likely to attend a low-quality school than their white or Asian peers. Students enrolling in inferior colleges are often the first in their families to attend college, and they are unaware of better choices that may be available to them. First generation college students do not have the knowledge or confidence to pick out better quality schools.

As a result, they are inadvertently keeping low-quality colleges in existence.

Cost-cutting initiatives

One of the reasons low-quality higher education institutes still exist is because of cost-cutting initiatives like online classes. Universities are having to find ways to offset inadequate funding. Unfortunately, in doing so, they are compromising the quality of education at their institution. This is particularly true of online classes.

By offering MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for introductory college courses, universities can save a substantial amount of money. A single MOOC has a high teacher-student ratio, and not all colleges are as intentional in their student support as Arizona State University. Students often receive a low-quality education when universities resort to cost-cutting initiatives.

Loyal alumni

University students forge friendships and partnerships that will buoy them the rest of their lives. Some students even meet and marry their spouses at these schools. Alumni who have created lasting relationships at college are some of the first to rally against closing a beloved alma mater, even when it has become clear that the programs offered no longer meet quality standards. Their emotional ties to the university, as well as their continued financial support of the school through donations, helps low-quality colleges remain open.

It’s likely that these schools will remain in existence until we change the way we view a university-level education.

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