Peter Thiel: The Education Bubble is Becoming Dangerous

In technology, you get more, but pay less over time.  In education, it’s the opposite.  You get the same, but pay more over time.

“It’s hard to say exactly what the timing on this is, but I think some of the online alternatives are going to get more traction as these financial pressures start to mount.”

“One of my friends has characterized the university system as the atheist church, which is sort of a successor to the Catholic Church. It’s sort of universal and that the university system in 2014, it’s like the Catholic Church circa 1514.  There’s less diversity.  The diversity between say the Harvard and Stanford political science department is considerably less. But it is sort of this priestly class of professors that doesn’t do very much work.  People are buying indulgences in the form of masking enormous debt for the sort of secular salvation that a diploma represents.  What I think is very similar to the 16th century is that the Reformation will come largely from outside.  At some point, maybe there will be some internal need to adapt.  But I think the first move will have to come from outside because you have systems that are so far decoupled from what would actually make sense and the people are so bought into a system that just does not work.  I think you will see enormous resistance from the faculty.”

“It’s striking how little of a focus there is on teaching in general.”

“There is a subtle point where something goes from a not great system into an all-out racket.”

“How much sense does it make for professors to really invest in their graduate students and PhD programs when there’s a sense that none of these people will get jobs anymore anyway.”

“It has in many ways become this incredible racket.”

“It is very hard to measure what the quality of education is and so when people say things like, you’ll figure it out in 20 years, there are things that you will learn that are intangible, it will help you 20 years in the future.  A cynical cut on that might be that, this is the sort of thing you say if you’re running a scam where you want to have a really long shelf life to it so people won’t notice that they’ve been defrauded for a long time.”

“There is something about the immeasurability of education that’s made the education bubble quite durable.”

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