Disrupting the HE market

The Higher Education market is weird. For decades the costs of HE have been going up at rates that far exceed the rate of inflation. At the same time the “product” (whether as measured by the quality of the education ‘delivered’ or the student experience) has been, in overall terms, deteriorating. And throughout this period, computing and other relevant technologies have been developing at an astonishing pace. So if ever there was a market that was ripe for major disruption, HE is it. And yet, except at the fringes, nothing much changes. Elite US universities will soon be charging $60,000 a year just for tuition. Even gimcrack institutions — in the US and elsewhere — are still able to charge astonishing fees. How long more can this go on for?

At this week’s All Things D Conference, Walt Mossberg held an interesting and revealing conversation with John Hennessy, the President of Stanford, and Salman Khan, founder of the wonderful Khan Academy, which covered several of what seem to me to be key issues — in particular, credentialling and the real reason why we insist on gathering bright young people in one place at great expense, namely to enable them to learn from one another (and engage in oblivion drinking).