The ‘Lean College:’ A no-frills alternative for higher education

By Rob Nikolewski on November 6, 2013
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GET LEAN: With the costs of college skyrocketing, a policy brief from a free-market think tank argues for a no-frills education model.

By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

SANTA FE – Is it time to start thinking seriously about alternatives to the traditional model for higher education?

After all, tuition rates — as well as student loan debt — have soared in recent years, leaving many to question the cost and value of some college and university degrees.

Into the fray comes a policy brief from the , a free-market think tank based in Albuquerque, that argues for establishing no-frills institutions of higher ed.

The brief’s author, , calls establishing what’s called “,” which would “fill a niche by primarily catering to returning adult students seeking a high quality low-cost face-to-face alternative to traditional higher education.”

The Lean College would emphasize teaching students skills employers want while cutting the bureaucracy and excessive costs seen in many institutions, Leonard writes.

Here’s a chart included in the brief (click on the chart to view it unobstructed):

While Leonard’s Lean College model could conceivably entail public or private dollars, he says it would resemble the best for-profit colleges.

The for-profit model, of course, sends many in the education community into fits of hyperventilation. But with so many college grads settling for jobs as , the Lean College is certainly an idea worth considering.

“Reform is never easy,” Leonard writes in his conclusion, “but reform from within a taxpayer-financed government-operated oligopoly is next to impossible,”

to read the entire eight-page policy brief.

Contact Rob Nikolewski at and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski

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