Should colleges get out of the cafeteria business?


“Why the universities … are even in the business of providing food and lodging is a question one could ask. Maybe they should turn those functions over to outsiders and concentrate on what they know best. … Some schools have made some headway in that way. Food services at many many colleges are now contracted out. The universities still own the cafeteria facilities and so forth, but the outside firms do the work. And there’s a fairly decent case that can be made that sometimes the colleges know a fair amount about how to educate students, how to do research, but they’re not really experts at real estate or housing or food. There are others who can do those jobs better.”

Richard Vedder, director of The Center for College Affordability and Productivity, in a segment on college affordability MPR’s The Daily Circuit this morning..

  1. Listen Making College More Affordable

    A Daily Circuit discussion

Vedder said room-and-board costs at colleges are rising faster than those in hotels and restaurants. Universities have found they can partly obscure the rising cost of education by increasing such low-profile charges as food while curbing hikes in the high-profile cost of tuition. That’s a tactic made easier by the fact that a number of on-campus meal plans are mandatory.

You can hear more from the exchange when I post the program’s audio — probably later today. So please check back.