Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors][ocr errors]


--- --



fact that expenditure trebled. Other factors contributed to increased cost.

Research, always an expensive feature of university expenditures, became in all fields increasingly a concern of higher educational institutions. Every university of any pretensions came to base its claims for honor and reputation largely upon extensive programs of graduate research. Undergraduate courses at the same time multiplied and were enriched by the addition of a great variety of offerings which formerly had not been regarded as essential parts of an undergraduate course. Technical courses were added, professional courses stiffened, and work with direct pre-professional purposes emphasized. More students, more research, more varied courses, mean more teachers (an increase in staff from 30,034 in 1912 to 49,838 in 1922); more buildings, including dormitories, laboratories, and classrooms; more equipment; in other words, more money. While this educational development was going on, money lost value, or in other words price levels increased.

As a result of all these influences, educational expenditures for universities and colleges were of necessity expressed in terms of American “big business.” People who had previously concerned themselves little about higher education or about any education in fact, felt free to criticise and to make suggestions. Adverse comment was released which had formerly been held back by the somewhat sacrosanct position which higher education had come to enjoy. A flood of questions resulted, all tinged with discontent. “ Are the results obtained in our colleges worth the cost ?” “ Are our educational institutions giving us, in the character of citizenship which their training is supposed to develop, a type of citizen worth paying for?” “Do the colleges and universities build up character of a democratic kind, or do they develop snobbishness and intellectual aristocracy?" “Are the institutions turning out graduates of such intellectual ability, even of such scholarship, as we may expect from what we spend upon them?” Business men and others were free in their statements that the college graduate came from college with no idea of how to work and showing little development of thoroughness and application. It was questioned whether the college really met the fundamental material needs of students by providing them with a means whereby they could earn a better living by reason of their college education. All this criticism was general in nature but directed toward those fundamental things which had in the past been accepted as the peculiar functions and contributions of higher education.

Criticism went further. It asked whether those who received the benefits of higher education should not pay for what they get. The suggestion that free education should not be quite so free struck the public institutions supported by taxation and the private institutions supported by endowment and free gifts. Response to the financial

pressure of the moment may account for such criticism more largely than the general theory that society should pay less of the expense of higher education, but everywhere the tendency was toward insistence upon higher tuition and institutional fees.

The great influx of students, the resulting expense, and discontent with the product of the colleges made many ask whether too many men were not going to college. President Hopkins, of Dartmouth, made the statement in regard to this point which excited the most comment and discussion: “The opportunities for securing an education by way of the college course are definitely a privilege and not at all a universal right.” The apparent antidemocratic tone of this statement led educators to interpret President Hopkin's statement to mean that there are not too many trained men turned out by the colleges, but that too many are in college who can not be there profitably. The argument then becomes, “Do not let into college those who will not themselves profit in proportion to effort and expense, or those who by their presence will slow up the progress of others." In practically no case have college presidents been willing to subscribe to the belief that the college should care only for the exceptional man.

The nature of college work and its aims have also suffered attack. Frequently objection has been made to the cultural motive in American college education in favor of the vocational. One of the great foundations goes so far in a report as to advocate that the cultural elements be cared for by the high school and that the college devote itself largely to technical, professional, or other vocational training and to research work.

Economic pressure is not sufficient to account for the action taken to meet the criticism offered, nor is the criticism released by economic conditions adequate ground for explanation of the steps taken to improve higher education. College and university administrators have not been compelled by economy and criticism to take cognizance of defects in the higher educational system. Rather, outside interest and suggestion have given them increased opportunity and freedom to inaugurate corrective measures which former tradition and conservatism made difficult. These measures and proposals have not, for the most part, been generally accepted as final or of universal application. They consist in many cases of more or less isolated experiments and discussion. Choice of educational proposals and of measures for inclusion in this survey is therefore based largely upon subjective judgment and not upon standards of practice.

No question can be raised that the economic situation has led to determined efforts to bring about more careful institutional bookkeeping and budgeting. In the past, and even to a great extent at the present time, the higher institutions have known only approximately the actual costs of conducting the institution, and have had

even less idea of the distribution of these costs. The Bureau of Education has never been able to collect, even from State-supported institutions, statistics of expenditures which are comparable in form and substance. It is to be hoped that the educational finance inquiry authorized in 1922, in so far as it relates to higher education, will result in some further general understanding of college and university accounting

Notable among contributions to this end is the very careful cost system worked out by the University of Illinois in 1921–22 and described by the president's report for that year. The work of the board of higher education curricula of the State of Washington is already well known. The General Education Board, which had previously published material and given assistance upon the budgeting of college and university funds and expenditures, has, as a result of increased interest in this subject, recently created a division of college and university accounting. Colleges everywhere are rapidly adopting intelligent budget methods and learning to handle the business affairs of the institutions in a businesslike way. This is one of the most marked tendencies of the biennium, which is directly due to increasing costs and financial pressure.


Partly as a result of increased costs and partly as a result of increased interest in testing and grading programs developed from Army psychological testing, colleges have during the biennium attempted to meet the problem of the great influx of students by more careful selective processes, both for admission and for passage through the work of the college. These processes range all the way from direct limitation of numbers to attempts to score the individual characteristics of students with reference to the bearing of these characteristics upon suitability for college education. The most important methods may be grouped under seven heads: First, arbitrary limitation of the number admitted; second, increased fees; third, use of the entrance examination; fourth, enforcement of high standards for entrance and institutional accrediting; fifth, grade limitations, both for admission and for progress; sixth, scoring of personal characteristics; and seventh, psychological testing. Each of these will be discussed briefly in turn.

No attempt has been made to determine all of the institutions that have during the biennium placed a direct limitation upon the number of students admitted. Harvard placeil, in June, 1924, a limit of 1,000 for its freshman class. Syracuse University during the biennium adopted the plan of abolishing scholarships in order to maintain a tuition income commensurate with the number of stu

dents instructed. By this device the university was able to save $50,000 annually.

Limiting enrollment has its reverse side. Arbitrary restriction in the number of students whom an institution will receive may result, unless careful thought is given to the resources of the institution and the work offered, in a unit which is not economic. Overhead expense does not vary in exact correspondence to increase or reduction of the number of students. An instructor who has a small student-hour teaching load costs just as much and the space occupied is usually just as great as if he had a load of standard efficient size. Furthermore, limitation of numbers results in reduction of tuition income, which may make necessary uneconomic reduction of institutional expenditures. In cases where limitations have been imposed they have been based upon analysis of the institution's resources and an estimate of its ability to handle certain numbers effectively. Such limitations, it is stated, have resulted in a changed attitude on the part of those entering college. For the idea that the college is a respectable four-year loaf has been substituted, in many instances at least, a realization that college attendance is a privilege which must be met by a corresponding sense of responsibility.


An obvious device which it was thought might limit the number of applicants for college entrance and the number of those who persist through a college course, was increase of student fees. This proposal was in line with the criticism of higher education that it was too free and that students should pay a larger proportion of the expense of their education. A study of the fees charged, made by the Bureau of Education for the year 1923–24, shows, when compared with fees listed in the catalogues of preceding years, that many institutions have thus increased the financial load of the student during the biennium. However, reduction in the number of students has not resulted. Michigan increased the fees in its medical courses, but this had little effect upon the number applying for admission.

The University of Illinois also increased its fees to nonresidents of the State, but again this had little effect in reducing the number of applicants. In general, increase of fees, therefore, has the effect of increasing the income of the institution but little effect upon discouraging attendance. Such increase of income as is derived from increase of fees does not necessarily mean greater economy. If the number of students admitted increases, costs may increase more rapidly than fee income, since in no case has an institution attempted to raise its fees to the point where the student pays the entire cost of his education. No one has as yet determined a fee charge which will actually hold applications for admission to any specific number for a given institution.


Although some institutions, notably those in New England, continue to maintain a direct control over the number of entrants each year by means of the entrance examination conducted by the institution itself, there seems to be little tendency to take further advantage of this device. In the Middle West and West, where the Statesupported institutions more generally set the pace under the restrictions of a position in the public-school system, there seems little tendency to limit numbers or to determine educability by means of institutional entrance examinations. It may be questioned whether more extensive use of this device may not have a contribution to make to the creation of institutions of distinctive character. Uniformity is promoted between different institutions through standardization carried on by the national and regional accrediting associations and through the work of the College Entrance Examination Board; there will always be a place for institutions which participate in such a uniform system. However, it is probable that in the near future institutions which now maintain their position in the college world only upon the basis that they conform to the standards of accrediting associations may wish to develop educational service of distinctive character. They may find the entrance examination one means of insuring entrants who will be suited to the peculiar character which they wish to impress upon the institution.


The work of the regional and national accrediting associations tends to bring about uniformity between institutions. During the biennium the influence and importance of the regional associations have developed to a remarkable degree. The north central association and the southern association now exercise more powerful influences upon secondary education and upon the standardization of colleges themselves than do any other national forces. In this connection a resolution of the north central association, adopted in 1923 and supported by the higher educational representatives in the association, recommends that the colleges should provide an alternative system of entrance by which students who have completed 11 or 12 units in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades of the senior high school may be admitted with full standing. If this resolution is accepted by the member institutions, it will have an important effect

« AnteriorContinuar »