By way of background, I teach at a relatively prestigious graduate school of management at a private university. I'm told that I'm not allowed to make public certain statistics, but suffice it to say that we have a large number of applicants for every "spot," and our offers of admission are accepted by "most" people to whom admission is offered. [Added after posting the first time: My picture seems to identify the institution. Oh, well. At least now I can boast about Peter Robinson as one of our most illustrious alumni.] We cultivate our reputation with prospective students and the larger business community. We depend on the very generous support of our alumni, support which is (generously) forthcoming. It would seem that this is a market in which privately ordered transactions are working well.
This morning, my colleagues and I received an email from one of the Senior Associate Deans proclaiming, among other things, that, henceforth, twice-weekly class sessions must last 105 minutes. The email went on with a lot more details about special cases of meeting times, lengths, and suchlike.
Why? Because (and here I quote) "Department of Education regulations issued in October 2010 require that one quarter unit of academic credit reasonably approximate not less than 'one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work for each week for ten to twelve weeks...or the equivalent amount of work over a different period of time.' " This regulation is, in turn, being enforced by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, our accreditation organization. And, accordingly, the university registrar has asked all schools and departments to "make necessary changes at this time."
I don't want to bore you with details, but let me stipulate: In a long career in this business (at this school), I have taught a variety of classes and, for some, complying with these regulations will lessen pedagogical quality. Different subjects, taught by different methods and at different levels, do not fit a "one size fits all" model of x hours in class per week, y hours at home.
Of course, government regulations, by their very nature, are often one-size-fits-all. I'm sure no one at Ricochet needs me to explain that this is among the reasons why, without a compelling public interest, it is best for the government to let private markets do their thing.
So....What is it about this particular private transaction that needs government regulation? What was in the mind of Congress when it passed a law (and which law?) that allowed this? (I assume there was a law, but that may be an unwarranted assumption.) Across the hall from me is a colleague who served on the Council of Economic Advisers in the Clinton Administration, and she is as mystified as am I. Anyone have a theory about how or why Big Brother thinks this is something else that needs regulation?