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Keywords:

  • Sputnik;
  • Gary Becker;
  • rent-seeking;
  • graduation rates;
  • tuition;
  • admission standards;
  • consulting

High costs and low graduation rates characteristic of 21st-century US public higher education stem from the bout of rent-seeking attributable to the post-Sputnik explosion in research spending and the consequent crusade to enrol new students, with diminishing concern for academic aptitude. New policies that tighten admission standards, encourage earlier graduation and enhance financial aid for the truly needy would constructively address these problems, as would incentives for faculty members to curtail outside consulting.