Boom Times

Publication: The Economist

11/12/2009 - A business that jacks up its prices during a recession is usually asking to lose customers. Not so America’s colleges, which are simultaneously raising tuition fees and experiencing record levels of enrolment. The Technical College System of Georgia, for instance, whose 28 campuses teach everything from power-line maintenance to dental hygiene, has sharply raised its fees, yet the number of students is up 24% from a year earlier. Campus parking lots are so full that “we got them parking in cow pastures,” says a spokesman.

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The Pew Research Centre notes in a recent report that enrollment rates have been rising and participation rates declining for decades now. One reason is that as the number of well-paid unskilled jobs began to shrink in the 1980s, the “college premium”—the difference in salaries between college and high-school graduates—rose. The college premium stopped growing earlier this decade, but it remains high enough to affect the calculus for any 18-year-old weighing whether to look for work or stay in education.

Read the full article Boom Times on the Economist's Web site.

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