Introduction to "Productivity in Higher Education"
While studies of higher education often focus on costs and benefits of policies and programs, few have examined the ratio of benefits to costs, i.e., productivity. This book advances the frontier of knowledge about productivity in higher education. We use newly available data that allow us to better assess benefits and analyze costs. There are several challenges, including multiple outcomes: skills, earnings, invention, altruism, and many other outcomes. Even if we have data on all such outcomes, how are researchers to prioritize them for analysis? A related difficulty is the "multi-product" nature of institutions of higher education such as different levels of degree programs, research, etc. Further challenges involve selection on students' aptitude and prior achievement, attribution when students change schools, and the public nature of some potential benefits of higher education. We introduce the volume by describing how each chapter confronts these challenges. Together they constitute a concise course in approaches to overcoming these challenges when measuring productivity in higher education.