Will Unbundling Kill Higher Ed as We Know It?

By Dian Schaffhauser, Campus Technology

If the unbundling of higher education were like the unbundling of a cable package, most TV viewers would relinquish the Golf Channel and QVC, and so might just as many students give up ample office hours, support from IT, the library, athletics and on-campus social activities in return for a big reduction in tuition and fees. According to Ryan Craig, in his 2015 book, College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education, “Bundling transfers consumer surplus to producers.” Cable operators “inordinately” benefit from selling cable bundles to customers, whereas unbundling returns that surplus to the consumer — in the case of higher ed, the student. But the concept goes beyond basic economic considerations. Students may one day find they don’t need a bachelor’s degree to become employable. When that day comes, the traditional four-year college experience could be considered as “old-fashioned and elitist” as a debutante ball.


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