Infographic: The higher education bubble, Part one

No readers like this yet.
A bubble in liquid

We often talk about the higher education bubble and it being on the verge of bursting but what does that really look like? How does a “bubble” form and what causes it to burst? The following two part infographic does a great job explaining just that by showing where higher education has been, where we are, and without change where we will be. To me, it further highlights why open source technology and open source principles have such an important role in education reform from lowering costs to demonstrating a better way for educating our youth in the 21st century and beyond.

Created By: Education News

Education News

User profile image.
Mary Ann Bitter is a Creative Strategist for Red Hat's Marketing Communications & Design team. She lives at the intersection of business and design and believes the open source values have never been more relevant than they are today.  She is passionate about problem solving and working with people who give a damn.


Hmm...this diagram shows the symptoms of a bubble, but not really where it comes from. Bubbles are caused by long term over-consumption or over-investment beyond the natural market-equilibrium. In the last 100 years or so, they've been caused by artificially low interest rates generated by the Federal Reserve or other central banks, but in the absense of them, the phenomon can occur due to issues with using gold as a commodity and what not. Take lots of subsudies, tax incentives, and very low interest rate government loans and you've got yourself the ingrediants for a bubble. Same with higher-education as with the housing market.

Well done Red Hat, back in 1998 I had a protracted email debate with a friend who was working for Microsoft. In the end we had a bet; he predicted that Linux would never gain acceptance in the corporate world and it would be primarily a hobbyist operating system. Its about time I collected on that bet. :)

-- edited, oops wrong post.

Part of the problem is that a college degree is used as a convenient way to weed out some job applicants. Many jobs don't actually require a BA or BS degree, but they do require candidates with a good work ethic who are sharp and can read and write fairly well. In older generations, there was a reasonably well-developed vocational system to train high school graduates in certain high-demand job skills (electricians, machinists, welding, cosmetology, auto mechanics, etc.). With the wholesale dismantling of the vocational system, most of the vocational kids are enrolling in college, because college degrees are valued more highly by businesses. As a matter of fact, most folks nowadays treat college as glorified trade school, in which the student is taught specific skills to get a job.

In older times, college taught students how to think and solve problems, not necessarily how to do accounting, engineering, marketing, etc. Businesses were willing to train new employees, but that is deemed inefficient in today's business climate.

With more students enrolling in college, the price goes up with the increased demand. And if everyone has a college degree, how do you pick the best candidate? Pick the candidate from the most prestigious college, obviously, which induces all colleges to spend lavishly to attract the best students and upgrade their reputation. Hence the spiraling cost of college.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.