HESA

Higher Education Strategy Associates

February 10

China: The Expansion Hangover

The explosive growth of China’s higher education sector wasn’t achieved without incident.  In fact, the expansion has thrown up a number of challenges for institutions and students alike.

Let’s start with the institutions.  The so-called 985 universities – that is, the research-intensive schools directly under the control of the education ministry in Beijing – have done remarkably well out of government policies since the 1990s.  Peking and Tsinghua Universities, in particular, have become genuinely global powerhouses in certain fields of research (Tsinghua, along with Zhejiang and Shanghai Jiao Tong, now have publication outputs surpassing MIT’s, though citations still lag badly – an indication of the still-not-quite-mature state of science in China); other institutions like Fudan and Nanjing have also done well.

Less well-off are the many universities that are under provincial control.  They were all required to expand capacity in the late 90s, and did so under the expectation that they would be given access to the “diversified funding sources” they were promised in the 1998 Higher Education Law.  In practice, the provinces didn’t invest as much as hoped, and didn’t allow tuition to rise as much as hoped.  This left institutions – which had borrowed heavily in the expectation of future revenues – holding an enormous bag.  By 2011, some estimates had it that they collectively had a debt of about $US 41 billion.

Students, of course, were big winners – young people now are something like eight times more likely to end up in higher education than they were twenty years ago.  But when you expand numbers that quickly, you’re bound to run into some capacity issues on the other side.  And this is exactly what we find: unemployment among recent Chinese university graduates now runs at over 15%, compared to rates of just 3% for non-university graduates, and underemployment is also rife .  As I’ve noted before, that’s unlikely to curb demand because the risk-adjusted returns are still pretty good.  But the creation of a large number of unemployed young people is never a good thing for a government that puts political stability first and foremost.

More to the point, perhaps, the unemployment problem has made people even more desperate to get into one of the prestigious 985 universities, whose graduates can rely on institutional prestige to get them a job.  But as Damien Ma and William Adams pointed out in their excellent recent book, In Line behind a Billion People, access to these schools is highly unequal.  Each restricts seats for students who graduate from their own affiliated middle and senior schools (in which the children of local Party officials are overrepresented), and also set aside the majority of their places for pupils from their own city or province.  What that means is that students from Beijing (population: 20 million), who have their pick of eight of the thirty-nine 985 universities, can get into an elite school with much lower gaokao scores than students from Guangdong (104 million, two 985 universities) or Henan (94 million, no 985 universities).

The universities’ debt problem will probably disappear eventually – as it has done before with state-owned enterprises, Beijing is likely just going to wipe the debts at some point.  The graduate problem also probably fades with time as the economy grows.  But the problem of unequal access to top universities is a killer.  As Ma and Adams note, urban elites like their privileges; woe betide the Party who tries to take it from them.

February 07

Chinese Higher Education’s Take-Off

When Deng re-opened the universities, the system somehow managed to pull together a couple of hundred thousand professors, and around 600 institutions started enrolling students.  By 1980 that meant about a million students a year in mainstream universities (plus another half-million in specialized “adult higher education institutions”), and a cozy student: faculty ratio of about 4:1.  Over the next decade, to 1990, those numbers would increase to about 2 million in universities (mostly in 4-year undergraduate programs known as Benke), another million in adult universities, and yet another million in two-year vocational (Zhuanke) programs.

At that point, the numbers flattened out for a few years, partially because economic growth faltered after 1990, but also because nervous Chinese authorities weren’t looking to increase student numbers after the events of April-June 1989.  But the years between about 1992 and 1995 were crucial ones because they locked into place a couple of key policies – mainly, rules allowing the establishment of private institutions, rules allowing universities to charge tuition fees, and rules allowing universities to borrow.  Together, those three rule changes provided the financial foundation for what happened next.

Growth came back in 1994, and numbers edged up over the decade, but the ninth and tenth five-year plans for education had bigger ideas in mind.  They foresaw a system that would triple or quadruple in size by 2005.  And so, more or less they did.  Basically, starting in 1999, all universities were ordered to increase their intake by 50%.  And again in 2000.  And again in 2001.  (And you thought Ontario’s double cohort was a big deal.) Within five years, the size of the university system tripled to over 10 million Benke students; adult higher education and Zhuanke enrolments grew in parallel so that by 2004 total enrolments were in the 20 million range, with about 20% of these students being educated in private universities.  Since then, enrolment has gone up another 50%, putting total enrolment in the 30-million range.

Now, I lied a bit in the last paragraph.  Not every institution was required to increase enrolment.  The very top schools – the 38 controlled directly by the Education ministry in Beijing, and considered the “elite” of the system (with the rest mostly reporting to provincial authorities) – were put into something called the “985 plan” (China has an odd tradition of numbering plans this way – 985 just means that the plan started in May 1998), which was meant to create “world-class universities”.  Basically, they were allowed to keep their undergraduate enrolments stable while, at the same time, receiving stonking huge amounts of money for research.  Sort of exactly what our big five asked for in their renowned 2009 Maclean’s interview.

And that’s basically the story: from 0 to 30 million students in 30 years, and from zero to a top-tier research contributor in the same period, through a policy of a two-tier university system, a lot of public money, and a healthy dose of tuition fees.  Nothing else in the history of higher education comes close to this scale of expansion of opportunity and achievement.

February 06

When the Times Higher Education Rankings Fail The Fall-Down-Laughing Test

You may have noted the gradual proliferation of rankings at the Times Higher Education over the last few years.  First the World University Rankings, then the World Reputation Rankings (a recycling of reputation survey data from the World Rankings), then the “100 under 50” (World Rankings, restricted to institutions founded since the early 60s, with a methodological twist to make the results less ridiculous), then the “BRICS Rankings” (World Rankings results, with developed countries excluded, and similar methodological twists).

Between actual rankings, the Times Higher staff can pull stuff out of the database, and turn small bits of analysis into stories.   For instance, last week, the THE came out with a list of the “100 most international” universities in the world.  You can see the results here.  Harmless stuff, in a sense – all they’ve done is take the data from the World University Rankings on international students, foreign faculty, and international research collaborations, and turned it into its own standalone list.  And of course, using those kinds of metrics, geographic and political realities mean that European universities – especially those from the really tiny countries – always come out first (Singapore and Hong Kong do okay, too, for similar reasons).

But when their editors start tweeting stuff – presumably as clickbait – about how shocking it is that only ONE American university (MIT, if it matters to you) makes the top 100 – you have to wonder if they’ve started drinking their own Kool-Aid.  Read that list of 100 again, take a look at who’s on the list, and think about who’s not.  Taken literally, the THE is saying that places like the University of Ireland, Maynooth, the University of Tasmania, and King Abdulaziz University are more international than Harvard, Yale, and Stanford.

Here’s the thing about rankings: there’s no way to do validity testing other than what I call the, “fall-down-laughing test”.  Like all indicator-systems, they are meant to proxy reality, rather than represent it absolutely.  But since there’s no independent standard of “excellence” or “internationalization” in universities, the only way you can determine whether or not the indicators and their associated weights actually “work” is by testing them in the real word, and seeing if they look “mostly right” to the people who will use them.  In most international ranking systems (including the THE), this means ensuring that either Harvard or Stanford comes first: if your rankings come up with, say, Tufts, or Oslo, or something as #1, it fails the fall-down-laughing test, because “everybody knows” Harvard and Stanford are 1-2.

The THE’s ranking on “international schools” comprehensively fails the fall-down-laughing test. In no world would sane academics agree that Abdulaziz and Maynooth are more international than Harvard.  The only way one could possibly believe this is if you’ve reached the point where you believe that specifically chosen indicators actually *are* reality, rather than proxies for it.  The Times Higher has apparently now gone down that particular rabbit hole.

February 05

Riding Two Horses*

Here’s a home truth that you won’t see acknowledged very often: modern Canadian universities aren’t one organization; they’re two, each with different values, priorities, and procedures.

The first organization is the one we’re used to thinking about.  It’s the one that acts as a pillar of the community.  It teaches the local kids, and works on local problems.  It measures its success in its ability to attract ever-brighter domestic students, and in winning national competitions for public research funds.  When possible, some international research collaboration and recognition is great, too.  It is heavily regulated, publicly-funded, and acts squarely to serve domestic policy needs.

This is a great organization, no question about it.  It’s the kind of research-heavy, Humboldtian university we’ve all been taught to believe is the bees-knees. The problem is that governments never pay for research the way research universities think it should be paid for.  So they start looking for ways to make a little money on the side in order to make ends meet, and they start a second business to subsidize their core mission.

These second businesses use some of the same resources as their core Humboldtian enterprise, but they have a completely different ethos.  They exist to make money, pure and simple.  It operates where government regulation is weakest – where something like actual competition reigns, and people pay what the market can bear – i.e. in the market for international and professional Master’s programs.  A substantial portion of Canadian institutions now earn over 10% of their income from these markets; there are probably a half-dozen institutions where tuition from these students is approaching total tuition from domestic students.  With government spending on higher education increasing below inflation across the country since 2009, this influx of dollars is pretty much the only thing that has allowed universities to pay for their 4-5% annual cost increases.

But here’s the problem: these businesses require two totally different sets of management skills.  The first business is about collegiality, consultation, deliberation, and the sanctity of academic disciplines.  The second is about speedy response to market openings, a ruthless focus on margins, and de-emphasizing disciplines in favour of more cross-disciplinary thematic programming.   Finding people with the skills to manage either of the businesses is difficult; finding people with the skills to manage both is almost impossible.

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This is a major reason universities are becoming increasingly unmanageable.  The folks at the top are trying to ride two horses at once, usually without a lot of training.  The folks in the trenches don’t always grasp that there even is a second business (and many of those who do despise the idea); in part, this is because most institutions kind of backed-in to their secondary business without having a proper strategy, or even a public discussion about it.   The result is a lot of anger and mutual incomprehension.

The first business is where universities earn their reputation and prestige; the second, increasingly, is where they make the money needed to keep that reputation and prestige.  Only the institutions that make both of these enterprises work together, efficiently and harmoniously, will succeed in the coming decades.

 

*N.B: this idea of two institutions isn’t mine.  I came across it originally in an Australian publication; I would give credit to the original author if I could, but I can’t recollect where I first saw it.

February 04

Presidential Salaries

One perennial meme in higher education is that presidential pay is sky-rocketing, at the expense of salaries elsewhere in the institution.  Latest example: news from England this month of university heads getting raises of $30-40,000, while opposing hikes in staff pay, which certainly looks a little piggish.  But what about here in Canada?

I showed in this post last year that Canadian presidential pay is significantly lower than it is at comparable public universities in the United States, Australia, and the UK.  And two years ago, I showed (using data from Nova Scotia only) that although Senior Administrative pay has risen more steeply than professorial pay over the last half-decade, the rate of increase is only about 25% higher than for that of professors.  But let’s take another, more national look at this.

The data below comes from the CAUT Almanac.  I’ve taken data from the 48 institutions where data was available for both 2006 and 2011, and for at least three of the four intervening years.  Here’s what the presidential salaries looked like between 2006 and 2011 (latest available data):

Figure 1: Average Presidential Salaries in Canada, in Nominal $

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(If you’re at a big university, these numbers probably look impossibly low; no U-15 university President has a salary below $350,000, for instance.  Just remember: the average includes presidents of quite small universities, too).

Figure 1 shows some pretty jerky upward movement.  2007 saw an 11% jump, followed by increases of 1%, 5%, 1%, and 4%, for an average of 4.7% per annum over five years.   For professors during roughly the same period (2006-7 to 10-11) the increase was about 3.1% per annum.  But if you look at year-on-year salaries, you’ll find that there is some enormous inter-institutional variation in Presidential compensation.  In fact, in 2011, Presidential pay for sitting Presidents was as likely to fall as it was to rise.

Distribution of Salary Increases for Sitting Presidents, 2011

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The key to understanding rising Presidential compensation in Canada is this: the big ratchets in pay don’t accrue to sitting Presidents.  If you just look at the 11 Presidents who sat continuously from January 2006 to December 2011, and whose salary data is public, their pay only rose on average by 3.1% per year – that is, by exactly the same amount as professorial pay.  The ratchet effect occurs much more often at the start of contracts, when the new President takes a starting salary that is significantly above that of the previous incumbent.

Are Presidents overpaid? Maybe.  But their rates of salary increase aren’t significantly out of line with other university staff.

February 03

The Crucible: Higher Education in the Mao/Deng Years

Chinese higher education wasn’t up to much during the Mao years.  After 12 years of war – with Japan from 1937 to 1945, and a civil war thereafter – there wasn’t a great deal left when the war was over.  Some universities relocated for the duration of hostilities, others closed and re-founded themselves in Taiwan after the Communists triumphed on the mainland.  Though the Communists oversaw a huge increase in basic schooling and literacy, higher education remained hampered by purges, famines, and poverty.  A few scientific areas (such as nuclear physics) thrived, but for the most part science could do nothing but suffer in an environment where any idea not founded on dialectical materialism was seen as suspect.

And all of that was before the Cultural Revolution began in 1966.  For the first two years, campuses were the site of intense (occasionally armed) factional struggle; after that, universities were effectively shut down – partly so that effete urban students could work in the countryside and have their consciousness re-wired by working alongside the revolutionary peasant classes (erasing the distinction between mental and manual labour was a key Party goal at this stage).  Enrolment plummeted from about 600,000 to about 50,000 or so – and these were chosen on the basis of class origins (workers, peasants, soldiers; i.e. *not* the remains of the middle-class) rather than academic excellence.  By 1976, these policies had left Chinese higher education – and indeed scientific knowledge, generally – in a parlous state.

Even before Mao died, Deng Xiaoping had identified science and technology as being key to China’s economic development.  This may sound like a no-brainer, but at the time “increased ideological zeal” (as defined by the Gang of Four) was the more orthodox solution to the productivity question.  Among Deng’s earliest policy initiatives, after his first rehabilitation in 1973, was to initiate student exchange programs with the US so as to give some bright graduates exposure to advanced scientific practices; and on every subsequent foreign tour, he pressed whatever country he was visiting to allow for more student exchanges.  Deng was responsible for re-opening Tsinghua University and ensuring that academics, not commissars, were placed in charge.  In 1977, he led the fight to ban universities from selecting students based on class origins, and requiring them to accept students who had proved their merit through a new National Higher Education Entrance Examination (the famous “gaokao”).

Though it’s not often recognized, higher education management issues were where Deng chose to fight his key ideological battles with Maoist radicals in the period 1974-1978.  In effect, as Joel Andreas says in his book, Rise of the Red Engineers, Deng replaced a Marxist view of science with a Saint-Simonian one, where the talented would lead.  The long-term effects were two-fold.  First, the raising of standards in Science & Technology has been an enormous force behind China’s 35-year spurt of economic growth, which has brought hundreds of millions of people out of poverty (restoring some property rights and allowing firms to earn profits didn’t hurt, either).  And second, it has put scientists and engineers at the centre of the country’s power system (nearly all members of the Politburo are Engineers).

In most developing countries, higher education and science is a lagging indicator of economic growth.  China was one of the very few countries where getting higher education policy right was an essential catalyst to economic growth.  And Deng himself was the one who got it very, very right.

* Many thanks to Ryan Dunch for comments on an early version of this, and last Friday’s,  “One Thought” *

January 31

The Universities of Imperial China

Today kicks-off Chinese New Year, and so I wanted to devote some time to the subject of higher education in the People’s Republic of China.  Given the immensity of the topic, the usual one-off, “Better Know a Higher Ed System” piece seemed inadequate – hence, I’ve written a series of posts, which I’ll be publishing over the next 15 days (the duration of Lunar New Year celebrations).  Enjoy.

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China is one of the few places in the world that has an indigenous version of the university – namely, the Imperial Academy, or “Taixue” (later “Guozijian”).  The first of these was set up in the first century BCE in order to prepare the bright and upwardly-mobile for appointment to the Imperial civil service. In later dynasties, a system of examinations (mostly concerned with Confucian moral philosophy, with a bit of poetry sometimes thrown-in) was introduced to govern entrance to the civil service, and schools for degree-holders and aspirants spread throughout the empire. Though their stature would rise and fall as dynasties grew and collapsed, they still existed in some form or another right through to the early twentieth century, when their abolition (in favour of western-style universities) fatally turned most of their suddenly-futureless students against Empress Cixi’s tottering Manchu regime.

There are two notable things about these academies, which are important for understanding modern Chinese universities.  The first is that they were significantly more open to people of humble origin than their medieval European contemporaries.  During the Tang dynasty, there were separate academies based (roughly) on class origin. The lowest of these was the largest (but also worst funded), admitting 1300 students per year.  Yes, stratified and therefore bad.  But also: open to talent from below, which for the time was strikingly unique.  Higher education has, in a sense, always had an access mandate in China because of the Confucian commitment to meritocracy.

More important, however, is the specific way that the concepts of universities, high-stakes exams, and desirable jobs interact.  Recall that the exams came before the university – that is to say, the purpose of universities was to get people to pass the exam, and into desirable jobs.  There has, in other words, never been a conception of higher education in China that wasn’t related to the job market.  Even though the curriculum was highly – even aggressively – humanities-focused (lots of poetry and philosophy, with a smidge of mathematics and astronomy), it was still all “applied” in the sense that the goal of higher education was about putting people into specific types of employment – though higher studies in Confucian societies do also confer on a student an aura of “virtue”, distinct from the acquisition of jobs or titles.

Thus, in China, the belief that meritocracy requires broad access to higher education, and the belief that universities are about passing exams and getting jobs, both have roots going back to before the birth of Christ.   Given this, it’s no surprise that they continue to exert a major influence on the region’s policy, today.

January 30

Essential? Beware of What You Wish For

So I see that COU has commissioned a poll, which has come back with the result that: Ontarians think universities are almost as essential as hospitals and primary/secondary schools.

Some highlights:

  • 88 per cent of adult Ontarians ranked universities’ overall contributions to the province as important, just behind hospitals (92 per cent), and elementary and high schools (90 per cent);
  • 72 per cent of adult Ontarians say that teaching at universities to increase knowledge and skills is a very important contribution to society;
  • 79 per cent believe that, through research, universities make a very important contribution to understanding science and healthcare;
  • 87 per cent believe Ontario university students benefit greatly from university programs.

The purpose behind this poll is obviously to say, “Hey!  Don’t cut our funding, because Ontarians think we’re almost as important as hospitals!”  And while it’s tempting to dismiss this with a simple, “good luck with that”, I think it requires some much deeper reflection, because it actually worries the bejesus out of me – not because I think the results are bad, but because I’m terrified of how politicians will interpret them.  COU seems to hope that government will see the word “essential” and think: “money!”  But it’s just as likely that they will see the word “essential” and think: “holy moley, we’d better regulate that sucker”.

You see, when something becomes “essential” to citizens, they tend to blame the government if things somehow go wrong.   Heat, water, electricity?  All either government owned or heavily regulated. Phones, ditto.  Hospitals, primary schools, same thing.  They’re all, in essence, utilities – things taxpayers expect to have at their fingertips when they want it.  And governments judge their success on utilities by how little whining they hear about it.

There are benefits to being a utility, of course: you roughly know how much money you’re going to get each year; there’s certainly no need to compete with others; and there’s no need to be world-class or anything like that.  And this is just as well, because governments don’t care if their utilities are world-class.  They just care about them not causing problems with the voters.

But what if “essential” universities start doing things the government doesn’t like?  Well, then the government might do things like get stuck into enrolment policy, telling universities who they can and can’t enrol.  They might dictate to whom they give scholarship money (not foreigners).  Veto some choices for President.  Amend the strategic plan so that it meets “system-wide” objectives.  It’ll start slowly, and then before you know it, they’ll be in control, micromanaging universities to death.  Even if they do pay less than half the bill.

The basic problem here, once again, is that university costs continue to rise faster than university revenue.  The instinctive university response to this problem seems to be to go hunting for more money from government.  But there’s a price to pay for that – and for how long will universities pay it?

January 29

Why is Student Debt Not Increasing?

Yesterday, we discussed why student debt burdens were falling.  One of the key ingredients in that recipe was that student debt had remained stable, or even fallen, over the last decade or so.  This is a puzzling piece for many because it seems counterintuitive.  So what’s going on?

Well, costs are increasing, but only modestly so: since 2000, tuition has only been rising about 2% above inflation.  There’s been no real change in the percentage of students living away from home – and for those who do live away from home, the picture is mixed: students in Western Canada are paying a lot more than they did 10 years ago; students in Ontario, on the whole, tend to be paying less.  Nationally, it mostly evens out.  Given these changes in costs, one would expect modest but noticeable increases in borrowing, ceteris paribus.  So something else must have changed in order to offset this.  But what?

Is it a question of students themselves having more resources?  Probably not.  As Figure 1 shows, student employment is remarkably stable over time.   So, too, is their average hourly income from wages, which surveys show is almost always 20-30% above minimum wage.

Figure 1: Student Employment Patterns, Canada, 1997-8 to 2009-10

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What about money from parents?  This seems to be up a little bit: average transfer in 2001-2 was about $2000 (in $2011), and is now about $2500.  What has changed, however, is the amount of money students get through RESPs.  This was negligible ten years ago; now, roughly 30% of students receive money from this source, and it’s a significant amount, too ($4,000/year, on average).  Obviously, much of that’s going to students who aren’t on student aid, but for those who are, it’s more than enough to explain the slowing rise in debt.

Then there’s the rise in student assistance.  Institutions have massively increased their scholarship budgets.  In the 1990s, about one in three new students got some kind of entrance scholarship.  Now it’s two in three.  The total amount spent on grants and remissions by provincial and federal governments jumped from $600 million/year in 1995, to almost $1.8 billion in 2010 (both figures in $2011 real dollars).  And of course, governments have added an extra $1.5 billion in tax credits.  Not all of that ends up in students’ pockets (some ends up with parents, some gets deferred until after graduation), but enough does to take a bite out of rising costs.

Figure 2: Increases in Total Government Student Assistance, Canada, 1993-94 to 2010-11 (in real $2011)

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None of these, on its own, amounts to a silver bullet to explain why student debt is stable or falling.  But together, it’s easy to see: more grants, more tax credits, the creation of the RESP are, together, probably putting about $3 billion extra into students’ hands every year.  Call it about $3,000 per year, per student.  Then add institutional aid, and throw in the extra billion or so that has gone to grad student funding in the past fifteen years.  That brings us to about $4,000 extra, per student.  That’s more than enough to explain why debt isn’t increasing.

In fact, the real question may be: why hasn’t it decreased more?

January 28

Why Student Debt Burden is Falling Like a Stone

Everyone talks about “rising student debt burdens” as if they are real.  But they’re not.  In fact, the burden of carrying a student loan has fallen significantly over the past decade.

Student loan burden is best measured by looking at the percentage of monthly after-tax income that it takes to service a loan each month.  This figure will therefore be affected by four different factors, namely: the size of student loan debt, interest rates, post-graduation income, and taxes.  Here’s what’s happened to each of those over the past 25 years:

1)      Student debt rose very quickly in the 1990s, more than doubling between 1992 and 2000.  This was because the federal government raised lending limits, and provinces by-and-large cut their grants programs.  Starting in the early 2000s, however (for reasons I’ll get into tomorrow), growth in student borrowing stabilized.  As a result, student debt has been roughly constant in real terms for over a decade now, as I showed back here, and may even have decreased a bit.

2)      Interest rates.  Nobody remembers this, but during the early 1990s, when we had the triple-whammy of the peso crisis, the sovereignty crisis, and an inflation-obsessed John Crow as Governor of the Bank of Canada, our interest rates were regularly 400 basis points higher than the Americans’.  They’ve come way, way, way down.  In 1991, prime briefly hit 14%, and throughout the 90s it averaged about 7.5%.  Today it’s 3%.

3)      Post-Graduation Income has remained remarkably constant over time.  Between 1988 and 2005, it didn’t change a bit in real terms.  Growth has been below inflation in the last few years because of the long recession, but it is still growing in nominal terms (we know this thanks to the many provincial graduates surveys, which have replaced the NGS as our key source of data on this subject).

4)      Taxes.  They’re down a fair bit.  Someone with average graduate income, 2 years out of school, paid out 28% of their income in taxes in the early 90s; now they pay 22%. (Thanks to Kevin Milligan and his great CTaCS program for the help in calculating this.)

In other words, things were pretty bad in the 1990s.  But since then, most of the relevant forces that underpin student loan burden have been heading in the right direction: debt is stable, or even down a bit, interest rates are down, taxes are down, and until quite recently income was more or less stable – and even now isn’t down very much.  Put it all together and what you see is that the after-tax repayment burden for someone with average student wages, repaying an average-sized student loan, has fallen sharply in the last decade:

Figure 1: Percentage of Average After-tax Earnings of Graduates, 2 Years Out, Required to Service an Average Student Loan

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That’s right: the burden of carrying an average loan, with an average salary, has fallen by over a third in the past decade.  It’s actually back down to where it was in 1992, before the rapid rise in tuition and debt of the 1990s.

I no longer expect facts to get in the way of people trying to manufacture a good crisis, but if anyone does happen to care about the data, there you go.

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