Allocating a university's resources via auction

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Allocating a university's resources via auction

Post  adamp on Fri Jun 05, 2009 6:04 pm

Charles Johnson of Claremont McKenna College wrote an interesting blog post ( ) advocating that the College allocates many of its resources using an online auction system. He references a system used by the Wharton school of business which allows MBAs to choose classes based on a limited number of points allocated at the beginning of each year. Seems like it could be very efficient at allocating resources.

Do you think that this is something you'd be interested in having implemented at Northwestern?


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Re: Allocating a university's resources via auction

Post  Matt Dolph on Fri Jun 05, 2009 6:24 pm

This is an interesting idea and i could defiantly see it having a good application in the northwestern class registration process. By giving students a set amount of points with which they could vote for classes students can use their points to "win" an auction for classes they have higher value for, perhaps a very good organic chem teacher, and would have a lower value and not really car about who was teaching their intro to spanish class. This would allow students to have more control over their class selection as opposed to most of the power being held by the last two numbers of your student id.

Matt Dolph

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Re: Allocating a university's resources via auction

Post  Tod Reynolds on Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:38 pm

I think that this would be an awesome system to implement at Northwestern. The article discusses using an auction on housing which could be very interesting at NU. Some students are probably willing bid for a prized kemper suite, while others would be perfectly happy settling for a cheeper room in NMQ. Under the current system by some magical lottery a student could get stuck in the basement of Bobb while another student, who pays the same amount, could get a spacious connector room.

In terms of classes, I like the auction system with points because it allows students to plan ahead for classes that they really want to take. Under the current rotation system a student could get first pick in their class on a quarter where they have no difficult classes to register for, and last pick a quarter that they need to get into the prized 10 person class. However, i could see this system getting out of hand, as there would probably be people who would try to work the system accumulating points and selling them on a blackmarket.

I guess the question comes down to the same one that is facing our country, is capitalism(an auction system) the best system. Theoretically it gets everyone the best outcome, however is the best outcome and the "fairest" outcome the same?

Tod Reynolds

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