When I last met Alison Wolf we discussed this dire problem with education and illusions of academic contribution, with Ivy League universities becoming in the eyes of the new Asian and U.S. upper class a status luxury good. Harvard is like a Vuitton bag or a Cartier watch. It is a huge drag on the middle-class parents who have been plowing an increased share of their savings into these institutions, transferring their money to administrators, real estate developers, professors, and other agents. In the United States, we have a buildup of student loans that automatically transfer to these rent extractors. In a way it is no different from racketeering: one needs a decent university “name” to get ahead in life; but we know that collectively society doesn’t appear to advance with organized education.
Which scam in history has lasted forever? I have an enormous faith in Time and History as eventual debunkers of fragility. Education is an institution that has been growing without external stressors; eventually the thing will collapse.