HomeBy Ry Rivard. Universities must slow the rising cost of higher education or risk losing the support of the American public, the president emeritus of Princeton University, William Bowen, argues in his new book. To do that, college administrations should turn to online courses to combat the “cost disease,” a term explained several decades ago by Bowen, a labor economist. The disease is simple: higher education prices are hard to bring down because labor prices rise while productivity remains the same. Bowen says that in academe, like a string quartet, there’s traditionally been little chance for colleges to reduce the number of laborers or the time it takes to finish the work. The cure, Bowen writes, may be online education. He argues online education can reduce costs without undermining students’ education. While he goes out of his way to make sure nobody thinks online education will be a silver bullet, Bowen's argument is likely to receive attention because of his time at Princeton and at ITHAKA studying new technologie. The book, Higher Education in the Digital Age (forthcoming from Princeton University Press), frames the current and coming debates instead of answering questions about the future of online learning. About a third of students now take at least one class online. Read more...