Supply And Demand

Yes, I can almost see eyes glazing over at the post title. Sorry, the “law” of supply and demand governs many, if not most, human interactions.

From comes this article about the German model of higher education. The title is, “Free University Tuition: A Cautionary Note from Germany.” The author (Andrew Hammel) is an American who taught at German universities for over a decade. Here are some excerpts:


“Yet the tuition-free system also has disadvantages. The first difference an American will notice is that most German universities look dingy and threadbare. Many were erected hastily in the 1960s and 1970s to house new students brought in by liberalizing reforms, and these cheap, poorly maintained structures are notoriously ugly (a German magazine recently ran a feature on “German Universities Ranked by Ugliness”). Most classrooms still feature rigid wooden or metal desks bolted into rows. Wireless coverage, library stocks, laboratory gear and classroom A/V equipment lag far behind the average American state university. It’s still possible to arrive to give a lecture and find an overhead projector awaiting your transparencies.”

“Eliminating tuition also means that universities become more like primary schools, or public utilities. This changes the dynamic in subtle ways. Universities will become more vulnerable to funding decisions by agencies, leading to more intrusive control and bureaucracy. Gather any group of German professors, and talk will immediately turn to the burgeoning bureaucracy which distracts them from teaching and research.”

“Tuition-free universities also have problems with student motivation. Most Americans who teach ordinary classes in Germany find average German students somewhat less motivated than their dues-paying American counterparts. The top third of motivated students would succeed anywhere, and the bottom third, as we have seen, drop out to join Germany’s justly admired system of technical colleges or apprenticeships. The key group is in the middle: these “average” students are just less committed than American students…Human nature ordains that, all other things being equal, you will care more about something you have to pay for.”


I would add that in coddled, spoiled America filled with people who have over-inflated senses of self-entitlement the notion that the government decides who can go to college without paying tuition would never be accepted. That’s the case in Germany, though.

Once again, the price of a good or service will never be lowered by subsidizing the demand for it, which is what all government programs do. I know I am preaching to the choir for some and that this lesson is falling on deaf ears for others. I will repeat myself: although I will not live to see it I think the US is headed for dissolution and maybe that won’t be a bad thing.



2 thoughts on “Supply And Demand

  1. What you wrote about the state run universities applies in equal measure to state run health “care” – ask any Brit to speak candidly about the National Health Service …

    Re the ugly, shoddy buildings at German universities – the same goes in France, as I can attest from having lived there. This is the legacy of Gropius, Miës and le Corbusier. The Stacked Ice Cube Tray School of Architecture. This is what happens when you let socialists/communists design your communities: soulless and inhumane buildings as soulless as their political philosophy.

    Le Corbusier almost got his way in Paris – twice. He proposed razing Nôtre-Dame cathedral and much of central Paris (focused on the “Marais”, the 4th Arrondissement) and building miles of high rise housing in the place of the heart of Paris.

    He very nearly sold the city planners on the idea. The recent fire at Nôtre-Dame might be labeled as le Corbusier’s revenge for rejecting his plan. Note in the image (linked above) that the space on Île-de-la-Cité occupied by Nôtre Dame is empty.

    As an aside, never let a socialist design your house of worship such as le Corbusier’s chapel at Ronchamp. This chapel was replicated at the Pacific Lutheran Seminary in Berkeley, CA. The acoustics in it are atrocious – it is nearly impossible for the congregation to sing together because of the horrid sound quality in this architectural abomination. Trying to play an organ well in this space is next to impossible.

    It is for good reason that this modern “architecture” is labeled “Brutalism”.


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