Interesting post by Ugo Bardi, who is a professor of physical chemistry at the U of Florence.
A blog about collapse as caused by depletion of mineral resources and climate change
But then, gradually, things changed. For the students, attending a university has become not unlike having dental work performed. Nobody likes that, but when it is needed you pay for it and you are happy when it is over. So, the college was three years of boredom (maybe five) in crowded classrooms where students had to suffer hours and hours of incomprehensible lectures derived in a droning tone by someone who couldn't care less about them. The boredom was punctuated with humiliation at those rituals called "exams." Fraternities and sororities became nothing more than exclusive clubs for wealthy students. The professors, on their side, gradually lost their job security and their academic freedom, They found themselves in a rat race where they had to run to survive, competing with their colleagues for salaries and research grants. The worst was the deadly mechanism of "academic incest" that consists of academics grading each other in a baroque procedure known as the "h-index." It is loved by bureaucrats, but it rewards conformity and lack of innovation.
Worst of all was how universities were taken over by bureaucrats who managed them as cash cows. The profits of universities went mainly to administrators while teachers were paid well only if they were superstars, supposed to be able to attract paying students. The rank and file were paid modest salaries while the bulk of the research work and the teaching was carried out by non-permanent staff on starvation salaries on positions that could be revoked at any time.
No wonder that the whole contraption was starting to fall apart at the seams and, perhaps, it is good that now it is apparently to everyone. The last hit was the pandemic. Once the students discovered that they don't need to be physically present in class, they are going to realize that they don't need to attend the low-quality lessons of the staff of their local university. Why not enroll at the best ones?
In Europe, there are about 2700 universities and in the whole world the count is at about 25,000. Most of them provide the same array of basic curricula. There follows that for most subjects there are tens of thousands of teachers who teach more or less the same things. Think of basic chemistry, for example. I can't imagine that in Bangalore they teach chemistry differently than they do in Florence. Do we really need so many teachers? And most of them are amateurs at their job. Just read a site as "rate my professor" and you'll see that not all teachers are appreciated by their students. No wonder that it is so: there is no quality control on the way university professors teach.
If we go to online teaching, instead, for each subject we can have just a few high-quality courses prepared by teams of professional instructors. And we can keep the best scientists while getting rid of the band of useless loafers who staff universities nowadays. What a saving for the economy! It is funny to see how some professors are praising the new concept of "e-learning" as if it was a good thing for them. It is as if horses were praising the internal combustion engines that were to replace them. Horses didn't realize that they were going to be slaughtered and rendered for their fat. A similar destiny may be awaiting most university professors, although not literally (hopefully, at least).