xEcon 295 – Economics of Higher Education

Go to a page with links to articles and papers to download.

This is the second time this course has been offered by the Economics Department. Prof. Bob Berrens offered it for the first time in spring of 2015, and I will be teaching the course in alternate years with Bob.

This is a “big question” applied microeconomics course. It will cover topics in micro-theory, labor economics, economics of education, and public finance. It will consider the value of higher education, how our society pays for it, and who has access to it. We will focus on the University of New Mexico, and the state of New Mexico, as UNM offers a proximate example of a flagship public institution. As such it is representative of all the successes and problems facing higher education in our country.

There are three dimensions to higher education:
Access – who can, and who should, go beyond high school?
Cost – what is the cost of eduction, and who should pay for it?
Quality – what is it and how do we measure it?

Using UNM as an example, but also looking at national trends and discussions, we will explore how society moves in these three dimensions and what trade-offs are made in achieving each, and all. A University like UNM is a really big multi-product firm, especially since we have a Health Sciences Center (HSC) and large regional hospital. It has a budget of around $2billion per year, half of that due to the HSC. There are thousands of employees, and thousands of students engaging in thousands of hours of research, teaching, study, engagement, and recreation. Who those faculty and students are, what they teach and study, and what the produce, learn and graduate to, are all important, and interesting. While students pay tuition, and taxpayers subsidize UNM, there are many other sources of funds supporting research and teaching. Who pays what at UNM is important, and interesting. And then there’s the question of quality…(You guessed it—important and interesting.)

Download details of the Data Project here.
Download the Ivory Tower essay assignment.

I’ve added a webpage to help organize the topics in this course. 
Download the syllabus here.

American Higher Education in Crisis: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Blumenstyk, 2014. This is an e-book and costs around $9 on Amazon. You can also buy it in paperback for about twice that price.

Principles of Microeconomics 2014. This is an Openstax ebook and FREE!