Essay topics: The following is part of a memorandum from the president of Humana University.
"Last year the number of students who enrolled in online degree programs offered by nearby Omni University increased by 50 percent. During the same year, Omni showed a significant decrease from prior years in expenditures for dormitory and classroom space, most likely because online instruction takes place via the Internet. In contrast, over the past three years, enrollment at Humana University has failed to grow and the cost of maintaining buildings has increased. Thus, to increase enrollment and solve the problem of budget deficits at Humana University, we should initiate and actively promote online degree programs like those at Omni."
Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.
It might seem logical, at first glance, to agree with the argument that Humana University should imitate the practice taken by Omni University, promoting online degree programs, so as to increase enrollment and save expenditure. However, in order to fully evaluate this argument, we need to examine some invalid assumptions made by the author first.
Firstly, the author makes the assumption that the decrease in expenditures for dormitory and classroom space in Omni University is because online programs takes place. It is very likely that the two phenomena had no causality at all and they just accidentally happened at the same year. Perhaps last year, the university ameliorated its management of dormitory and classroom via renting them to local communities to organize activities, and then a large percentage of maintenance fee was paid by these communities, so the expenditures provided by school decreased last year. If it were the case, the conclusion that the fall of expenditures resulted from the increase in online enrollment would be seriously weakened.
Secondly, the author implies that the low enrollment in Humana University is more likely to continue this year. However, what if the enrollment would grow during the following years? It could turn out to be the case, for example, that the enrollment at Humana University failed to grow because over the past three years, the entering students were not enough. Maybe this year, there would be a massive amount of entering students that chose to study in Humana University. If we were to learn that less students getting enrolled in this university does not necessarily mean that there would never be a ballooning afterwards, it would significantly undermine the conclusion.
Finally, another invalid assumption is that if Humana University also promote online degree programs by mimicking Omni, the problem regarding low enrollment would be solved. The mere evidence that Omni succeeded by online teaching does not necessarily mean that Humana would get the same result just like Omni. Perhaps even Humana implemented online course, students still would not choose this school simply because of the poor educational quality in Humana. If this possibility was proved to be true, it would significantly weaken the final conclusion that Humana is more likely to increase enrollment via providing online degree programs.
In conclusion, a significant amount of assumptions need to be assessed before the author firmly achieved the conclusion that Humana University could not only augment the enrollment but also save budget throughout the implementation of online degree programs.
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