Is the increased cost of the undergraduate degree worth it?

In light of diminishing returns, David Frum says it’s time to raise that question

David Frum, a former speech-writer for US president Bush and frequent contributor to the National Post, says the crisis in undergraduate education is similar to the current housing crisis in the US.

He believes that a “crash” may be coming in undergraduate education if problems in the sector are not solved.

“Surging prices, collapsing returns, ending in a crash — housing? Yes, but the pattern may equally apply to another area of middle-class aspiration — college education,” Frum said on American Public Media’s radio show Marketplace.

Frum argues that the value of an undergraduate degree, in purely economic terms, is decreasing while the price increases.

He points to the explosive growth in degree holders as one of the main causes. “The proportion of Americans with a college degree continues to rise. As more and more job applicants hold degrees, have employers become more discerning about what exactly those degrees represent?,” he says.

Frum says the solution to the problem is not to hide the cost of higher education behind more loans and government subsidies.

I disagree with Frum’s assertion that the government should not be funding more supports.

I agree that one of the problems in higher education is the continuing inflation in higher education costs and the fact this inflation is well above the rate in the real world.

He makes a good point, the average economic return from an general undergraduate degree is down; however, as one who enjoys the opportunity to pursue that return, the potential returns economically are well worth the risk involved in the investment.