I believe a strength of our democracy has been the widespread study of liberal arts at colleges, even by non-liberal arts majors. Whatever the cause, the drastic decline of those who understand basic political science, literature, and the arts hurts our ability to function as a working republic. I would argue this also hurts our economy as we need creative individuals who can synthesize and invent at all levels. Why do we increasingly seek to emulate third world educational systems?

MOOC’s present a legitimate educational avenue to control costs and increase reach. Yet they cannot (yet) truly emulate the classroom experience, and the value of reaching adulthood among your peers in an academically stimulating environment. As many have pointed out, MOOC’s are excellent *supplements*, especially in a continuing ed role.

So what’s the real problem MOOC’s or any other novel approach seeks to solve? It seems to me the answer is cost, rather than declining quality. Maybe I’m naive, but I think the innovation we need in our higher educational system involves better approaches to financing a university education.

For instance, why do financial institutions provide student loans? By deferring payment, these huge debt burdens serve to drive up costs. Why not cut out the middle-man? A university could defer tuition payments over a period of time. This would emulate loan payments for students, but theoretically at less usurious rates. Now the interests of student and university are better aligned: the future credit-worthiness of graduates becomes very important to university administration.

Federal and state governments could offer no interest loans to universities to compensate for hit to short-term funding. Over time, universities that produce good earning, reliable graduates would thrive. Those that do not would fail.