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tv   Phillip Magness Cracks in the Tower  CSPAN  December 22, 2021 3:10am-3:25am EST

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future on book tv. >> joining us on book tv is author philip magness he is the co-author with jason brennan of this book, cracks in the ivory tower. at first about mr. magness when you do for a living? >> i am an economist at the american institute for economic research.
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>> have you been in academia before? >> i have it. spent about ten years teaching college american university and very college all over the united states but. >> what was your experience like? >> it was an interesting environment to put it mildly. many good positive things came out of it both in terms of college i work with and the research that i did. i also got to see the inside behind the scenes of what happens in the way a university runs. >> and what did you find? >> my immediate take on it is, if we judged a university just as a normal business operation there are things that happen in universities that would make things like enron look ethical by comparison. >> give us an example. >> the first thing is the weight universities and market themselves through students.
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if you go to any university they have literature they present themselves as you are going to get a world-class education and open up all sorts of possibilities. their promising high and mighty things but every student that comes to their system is going to get. but when you actually look at the results was coming out of the university system it's a range of degrees. some are not worth the money you are paying for. students are leaving with the massive amounts of debt very little in the way of job prospects. there's often a promises made that are simply not delivered on it. you university administrators operating in such a way to try to get more time out of students as opposed to actually delivering an educational product to them. >> this is been a revolving change in your view in higher education in america? >> i think it's something that at least goes back to the
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middle of the last century. the post-world war ii era as higher ed really expanded. you can find trayce going back hundreds of years. one of the anecdotes we tell and our story adam smith are for the wealth of nations in 1776 compared to inefficiencies at oxford university in england to the scottish system. one of the things he pointed out is the professors were lazy, the administrators were operating in such a way they thought there was a continuous cash flow. they did not have them deliver anything to the students. children under the students cheated came to class late it's the same patterns received 250 years later are still taking place in the university system for. >> necessary for good job anymore? depends quite a bit on the field. certain college degrees math
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in the stem fields on the other end of that there are some degrees like in theater you start asking the questions of your spending over the course of your spending may show to college there may not be the type of career path because the job market is not there for those types of degrees. >> in your book cracks in the ivory tower we talk about general education classes quite a bit, why? >> right. jen ed are these classes everybody takes. there is roughly about a third of the college experience for the typical students. that is your intro to english, intro to get a well-rounded
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education. over many, many decades they have accrued in such a way a lot of these classes in the way of content but we look at the book at some survey data where they ask incoming freshman basic questions about knowledge and critical thinking. two years later after the end of their sophomore they asked the same questions there's basically no difference on the amount of materials they learn paid no improvement at critical thinking skills. these are all from the years they spend in college taking the jen and classes. so he asked the question why are remaking students take multiple into tens of thousands of dollars taking mandatory classes for getting a degree and they aren't not learning much in those classes. they have figured a way to lobby the curriculum to make their classes mandatory what is that mean? you can hire more faculty, the
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english department may be declining in majors over all. as hundreds of students coming to its classroomanas that again. while faculty ask it again, as a tenure important in higher education? >> we have an ideal theory of tenure that said it is an important institution to protect academic freedom, to ensure faculty are independent , to make sure the university system can operate as a curator of knowledge that is the traditional theory of tenure. it's like a reward the way it operates in practice is often used as almost a nepotistic handout to get your friends in the door and make sure certain people are hired. but also exclude other people from departments even if they have stronger resumes than some of the candidates you do hire. it becomes a very distorted
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type of system that has all sorts of incentives. i would not say one 100% good or one 100% bad. we really tried to pay attention to what the incentive structures are so institutions like tenure create. makes it very hard to hire faculty in a certain fields there is entry barrier before the professor is hired into that particular department. investing in tenure you will have this for colleagues and decades to come one of the results of that is it distorts the job market for educators. we know anything about higher education the job market is a complete mess for this too many phd's to many people seeking to few positions in our college and universities. it's one more institutions holding that upper. >> what is the institute for
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economic research? >> the institute for economic research is a nonpartisan free market economics and related fields to produce economic indicators and assessments of how the american economy is performing for. >> the freedom plus libertarian convention in rapid city south dakota. what is the libertarian approach to improving, changing higher education? >> we go back to the proposal back in 1776. there needs to be a greater connection between the payers for higher education and the providers with the administration and faculty but if you connect the payment mechanism to the product is being preserved and presented to them you have a financial incentive of both parties to
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improve the educational system. higher ed is financed a third-party provider by the government or student goes or something is not much of a financial connection of the university itself. what it does is it creates bad incentives each of the different stakeholders the university system are seeking a very different thing from the other. there's no feedback mechanism whether faculty are delivering and what they promise. go back to adam smith with the payment system for the actual provision of content is between the students and professor trickle between students and administrators
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and can adjust is being provided for. >> in your view is that u.s. world report ranking system converted somewhat our view of hyatt higher education? >> the ranking system was intended originally to allow students and their parents as hundreds of thousands of choices of universities and you have a basis to compare them. something we see in the book. universities do things like change their course offerings, what they spent money on the ration of students to professors that gives them a higher ranking in the u.s. news and world report. one of the really egregious one the more students they reject, the higher the rejection rate can be used to boost their rankings.
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what is that mean? they go out and encourage students to over apply to their universities. students they're never intending to take so harvard, princeton, gayle and you harvard, princeton or yale up apply that's one more rejection it makes it more exclusive. it's an extremely unethical act it's wasting people's time, wasting their money, leading them on increase the prestige of the university and the ranking systems. >> what was your college experience would you do it differently today? >> i went to a small liberal arts college for undergraduate. graduate school phd and a large public university taught at both types of institutions. i see some similarities some differences i offer the same
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advice into the high school students when i talk to them today, think about it strategically. pick a major base out what you think will be suited and trying to discover yourself are trying to find a new path, hobby or consumption in life. in other words, think a way to get to college efficiently. one thing i would have done is continuing in the community college credit not the general education requirements out of the way. what we will find is these are the major contributor to the cost of college today. you are spending one half to two years of your college experience taking jen and classes and playing full tuition. this is a very heavy expense on students and their parents.
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the in rome at the local community college to enter into college with your major and graduate co-author of this book, cracks in the ivory
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