We Need More Universities
Lyman Stone

The University of California at Merced is an example of a new university planted in the past 20 years. What’s important here is that it extends the UC brand, rather than attempting to create an entirely new brand.

There is a block of vacant land owned by a developer near where I live in California, which the developer has promised to donate a campus size chunk of to a new university in exchange for development rights for the adjacent land. (The transaction is more complex than this.) It’s on the third university at this point, the first two having backed out a decade into the process. One of them was a well known university from the Eastern half of the U.S.

I personally believe that the cost structure of higher education has spiraled out of control in the last 40 years, and that before new entrants occur the cost structure must be reined in, which will probably mean leveraging the same cost over more students (ie the needed changes will create overcapacity given the existing infrastructure). Schools are also on the slippery slope of opaque and discriminatory pricing, which needs to be reined in as well.

To put this in perspective, each of my son’s 12 quarters at Stanford cost more than my entire private university education, in nominal dollars. He had the drive and initiative to get our money’s worth, particularly out of the upper division and graduate seminars, but most students could be educated at far lower cost.

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