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.
In the memo, the president of Humana University urges that the university should initiate the online degree programs like those at Omni University because similar programs in Omni University seems to be successful in helping raise the enrollment rate and reduce the expenditure.
While the programs may be beneficial to some extent, the reasoning of the argument may be unconvincing due to an unsubstantiated assumption, which, if prove unwarranted, will seriously challenge the author’s conclusion.
To begin with, when talking about the successful results achieved by Omni University, the author implicitly assumes that the inline degree programs are the sole reason why Omni University reduced its expenditure and raised enrollment. However, this assumption in probably problematic. For example, we are not informed of whether there were other events out which would also benefit the university. For example, the decrease of expenditure of dorms and class space may be due to the decline of the rent. Also, the increasing enrollment rate may be a result of the improvement in teaching. If either of the aforementioned scenarios turns out to be true, the author’s assumption will be unwarranted, and thus the recommendation should not be implemented.
In addition, granted that the assumption mentioned above is true, the author’s argument may also be challenged because of another doubtful assumption that Humana University is comparable to Omni University. Claiming that the two universities share similarities in terms of the online degree programs, the author may be too optimistic. We are not aware of whether the targeted students in Humana University would welcome such a new method of acquiring a diploma. If it turns out that this online program is not attractive to the targeted students, because they are used to the face-to-face class, then Humana should not initiate such programs as Omni does, and the author’s recommendation will be challenged.
Finally, even if Humana can imitate Omni in terms of the operation of such programs, the author’s conclusion could still be challenged because of another unsubstantiated assumption that such programs will deliver the predicted results. However, assuming that the programs are effective lacks enough thought. The author should not implicitly assumes that Humana has the capability and efficiency to operate such a new program. Also, we should not trust the teachers in Humana can teach as well as they do in the classrooms. If it turns out that Humana fails to operate the programs so much as to ironically increase its cost, or that the education quality declined because the teachers are not used to teaching online, the author’s assumption will be challenged, and the recommendation will not be realized.
To sum up, while the author’s recommendation seems appealing at first glance, the assumptions mentioned above may deprive it of its credibility.