The current model in British UK HE lets me teach 18 hours a week. Students get 9 hours class contact, so in principle I can teach two classes their entire programme. These classes may have 100 in each and at £10K p.a. meaning I bring in £10,000 times 200 = £2 million in fees. I could handle such a load if freed from bureaucracy.
My guess is we could reduce fees to £1000 p.a. by making the courses mainly distance learning. My mate teaches in a US place like this where he never sees a student.
Some students claim they prefer the personal touch and lectures, but they are lying mostly. They really want to meet for good times, to be away from Mom and Pop, shag and so on. I have little problem with this and once taught at a campus university which allowed this in a protected environment, miles from town. Even in the Middle East this was a major part of the university. One can even choose ‘silver ring thing’ style colleges.
There must be other ways of doing the social side and providing a creative focus that doesn’t involve running up all the debt – or hiding away the knowledge or paying benefits (as pay) to all kinds of unnecessary types. One university has me bidding for research and project money with overheads of 64%!
It’s obviously cheaper to go down the distance learning route, yet there are many other possibilities, including much more practical and work-based learning schemes and wider access to sport and cultural university stuff. Years ago, we ran sandwich courses, and all staff noticed the students were massively better after the year out at work. Most of these have gone because bog standard lecture-essay writing models are cheaper and easier. Only 20% of students can benefit much from this old academic form, and academe has sold out by expanding and diluting standards so low I could pass almost all non-technical courses. We teach stuff you can find out about on the Internet.
Instead of sending more and more people through increasingly third-rate experience at great cost, we should be looking to real innovation and new forms of university. I have plenty of ideas, but the question is why the people we pay to haver them are putting none forward.