May 5, 2014


Inevitably, obscenely high fees for a place at the top-line colleges make much of the American education debate an economic calculation – what return will there be on a family’s investment, which usually is construed in terms more about the salary the student might ultimately earn than it is about the well-roundedness of his or her education.

Although the US spends a greater proportion of its GDP on universities than any other country, it ranks at only 15th in the world for the proportion of its young people with a university degree. Yet unemployment among young graduates last year was 8.8 per cent – and more than double that if those who had given up actively searching for work are counted.

The issue of students’ potential earnings has added significance because of the huge college debt they are obliged to service on graduating. An Associated Press analysis of date for 2011 found that 53.6 per cent of graduates under the age of 25 were unemployed or in menial jobs that did not require their degree.

You could write a whole book on these problems.