Robert Wright writes for the Martin Center about prospects for creating a new university system.

We have reached a critical juncture in our nation’s history. As once hallowed institutions decay before our eyes, parallel structures struggle to arise. Cryptocurrencies, Fintechs, and private equity funds hedge against financial system collapse. Private security continues to grow in the face of police defunding crusades. And in K-12 education, charter, parochial, and private schools strive to excel where government schools have failed.

Innovations in higher education have also occurred but clearly have been insufficient to stop the downward spiral of increased cost and decreased value that many have warned about for decades.

It is time to get serious about building a parallel university system. It is both sorely needed and easier to achieve than one might think.

In recent years, colleges have been forcing out good professors, like Dave Porter at Berea College, unwilling to bend the knee to an increasingly aggressive Woke Ideology. Other professors are quietly retiring early, killing themselves, or vociferously quitting in disgust. Untold numbers of aspiring scholars eschew graduate school in the humanities and social sciences for safer (and likely more remunerative) careers in business, law, or the sciences. …

… Americans know that many, if not most, universities are broken, but they think in terms of incremental reforms, like scaling back diversity programs, adopting the Chicago principles of free expression, and so forth.

More radical changes are needed.

I suggest building a parallel university system along classical liberal lines and then outcompeting the Woke despite their public subsidies. If that sounds pie-in-the-sky, it shouldn’t. Unburdened by suboptimal customs, needless regulations, and poorly aligned incentives, new entrants regularly disrupt and eventually subsume older institutions that resist change.

In a new paper, Aleksandra Prezgalinska and I survey how business, economic, and technology change led to productivity revolutions in agriculture, communications, finance, industry, institutions, markets, and transportation.

Higher education’s failures have similarly primed it for another such revolution.