Commentary

Outsourcing the University

This article by Arnold Kling offers a very interesting vision for the future of higher education: [The] ability of college to provide educational substance at reasonable cost is diminishing. To me, this suggests that in the future colleges will turn increasingly to outsourcing. Rather than rely on an internally-selected faculty, a college might turn to a specialized supplier. That supplier might provide instructional videos and software in addition to live professors. Rather than enjoy the privilege of institutional tenure, professors might sell their lecture time through agencies that book popular speakers. In the information age, many manufacturing companies have become supply-chain integrators. You might hire consultants to design a product, go to China to manufacture it, hire a logistics specialist to ship it, and rely on a value-added reseller to market it. I could see colleges going down the same path. A generation from now, the most successful colleges may be the ones that provide the best aesthetics, while outsourcing the actual function of education.

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.