I’ve worked in Christian Higher Education for a number of years. Just about as many years I spent enrolled in one school or another. I’ve never been entirely comfortable in this realm. For someone who likes simple church, schools are on definitely on the more complex end of the spectrum.
The bible school movement in western Canada is definitely in decline. Enrolment is down and some schools have closed down.
I’m convinced that cost is an huge issue. The cost of education has outpaced inflation for 15 years across the board. A university can get away with this because there is no alternative and no real competition. If you want to learn something that that actually increases your earning potential in a wide range of fields there aren’t any other options.
For most people a biblical education is a personal choice, not a vocational necessity. It is a choice that more students are dropping.
In the United States cheap and easy credit created a housing bubble. Give more people easy credit and there are more buyers willing to pay a higher price for a home. I wonder whether cheap and easy credit in the form of student loans has given institutions the freedom to raise fees far in excess of what they would be if there were no student loans. If the cheap credit evaporated what would happen? I imagine we would see a rash of budget cuts and school closures.
What would happen if the economy, shifted in to a bout of high inflation and high interest rates? Student loans have variable interest rates and cannot be cleared with bankruptcy. Interest relief helps many in Canada but it doesn’t clear the debt. I think the relatively low interest rates of the last 15 years have lulled us in to a false sense of security. Debt is bad, it is a trap, and most 18 year-olds don’t appreciate how risky taking on on a huge debt is.