Have you heard of the “rotten apples” commercial? It was a popular one about a company that made apples that were relatively rotten to begin with. The implication is that the company was always trying to “sell rotten apples to the market” and they didn’t have any consistency in their process. Today, as a society, we experience the same “show me” mentality among our higher education institutions and students. They have enough “good apples” to keep them afloat and if they made too many mistakes, they could still turn out good products. How often do we see the people at the top of the colleges and universities proclaim that they had no idea that these poor decisions would result in a national crisis?
Not only do we have a lack of consistent quality in our colleges and universities, there are also large financial consequences from this, regardless of their governance. It may not be unexpected for a higher education organization to face controversies that may lead to negative publicity, but businesses should not face the repercussion of an entire industry falling apart as a result of these issues.
Much of the critique surrounding colleges and universities is based on an issue of tenure. Colleges and universities have different levels of tenure, and there is an argument that a university with shorter tenure should be more accountable, but what makes tuition so high should be considered one of the top reasons for the high costs in our higher education. My industry, accounting, had a 10- to 20-year validity when it came to a long-term contract that allows me to give my clients freedom and flexibility. As an undergraduate, I would only be studying for about four years, yet my company would offer me a 10- to 20-year validity of a contract that would cost me more than my annual tuition. I know the government does not want companies to pay these high costs, yet with a strict economy theory that highlights limited supply, price and demand, I will need to be in a profession for the long haul to have what they value. According to the Canada Student Loans Program, the price of getting out of school is likely to increase to at least $9,000 per year of tuition by 2026.
I would prefer to stay in a profession that I know has a proven value and can go the distance for decades, but if that is the case, I can buy apples.
If students do not remain focused on their education and how they pay for it, then we will end up in a situation where there is not enough apples to feed all the jaded lower quality ones. If someone commits such a criminal act as belying responsibility for the use of the campus property, or even worse, to destroying the campus itself, then the institutions get the poor marks. These are not the ideals of higher education that anyone should want to be associated with.
By saving a substantial amount of money by not carrying out the projects deemed highly risky by your institution and by not spending money on projects that were not needed, you are saving both money and reputation for yourself and your university.
You may ask “why do I need to give good apples to my customers when I can purchase many of them from elsewhere?” The answer is because I have a university that makes no investments in my learning experience, and I want to secure a long-term contract.
The students are consuming this current formula and we should not encourage them to do so; instead, we should be teaching them how to earn money efficiently and pursue their professional goals with financial integrity.
Bianca Centella holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Saint John’s University and is an account executive for a large accounting firm in Toronto. She is a strong supporter of the arts and multiculturalism and seeks to create positive change in the community.